by Kyle Becker, March 28th, 2021 Stillness in the Storm
China released the mobile app in February 2020 that “tracks people and alerts them if they have been in ‘close contact with someone infected’ with the new coronavirus,” CNBC reported at the time.
“The ‘close contact detector’ was released Saturday night, according to China’s state news agency Xinhua,” the report continued. “Users scan a QR code on popular Chinese apps like WeChat and QQ, and submit their name, phone number and government-issued ID number to request information about whether they have been in close contact with anyone infected by the virus.”
“Once users enter their name and ID number, the app will tell them whether they were in close contact with someone infected,” the report said, adding that “each registered phone number can run the search for three different ID numbers.”
On Sunday, the Washington Post broke the news that the Biden administration is planning to use similar technology to track if Americans have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine.
“The Biden administration and private companies are working to develop a standard way of handling credentials — often referred to as ‘vaccine passports’ — that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as businesses try to reopen,” the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
“The administration’s initiative has been driven largely by arms of the Department of Health and Human Services, including an office devoted to health information technology, said five officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the effort,” the report added.
“The initiative has emerged as an early test of the Biden administration, with officials working to coordinate across dozens of agencies and a variety of experts, including military officials helping administer vaccines and health officials engaging in international vaccine efforts,” the Washington Post report noted.
The extensive planning and the reports about cross-agency collaboration track with that of the Communist Chinese’s contact-tracing app development.
“It is the latest effort by the Chinese government to use its sprawling surveillance system to contain the new coronavirus outbreak,” CNBC said. “The state news report, shared Monday on the website of China’s National Health Commission, does not detail how the app works, but said several government agencies collaborated ‘to ensure accurate, reliable and authoritative data’.”
New York launched its COVID passport on Friday, following a trial run on thousands of New Yorkers testing the program. The Excelsior Passport is “the first of its kind to be rolled out in United States and allows specific sites that administer COVID vaccines or test for the coronavirus to upload the data to the app,” the Gothamist reported.
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