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No, Covid vaccine won’t leave ‘invisible mark’ to be used as ‘immunity passport’

A Facebook user shared a graphic in November 2020 that makes startling claims.

“The microneedle coronavirus vaccine will leave behind a ‘Quantum Dot Tattoo’ or invisible mark on one’s body, which can be scanned as the ‘digital certificate’ and ‘immunity passport’ to get around in society,” it says.

The graphic, shared in South Africa, includes a photo of what appears to be a microneedle patch. These are tiny needles designed to deliver medicines and work much like transdermal patches, such as nicotine-replacement and contraceptive patches.

While microneedles are not new, scientists are researching this method as a way of effectively vaccinating people without having to go the route of a jab. Research co-authored by Africa Check has shown that the prospect of an injection increases vaccine hesitancy.

Along with the vaccine, a person would be injected with a bit of invisible dye. Scientists have identified a technology called quantum dots – tiny semiconducting crystals – that reflect light as an effective and safe way of doing this.

The dye is meant to help keep track of vaccinations in both developed and developing countries. Scientists have acknowledged that it may lead to privacy concerns. 

‘Invisible medical tattoo’, not ‘immunity passport’

“Different people and different cultures will probably feel differently about having an invisible medical tattoo,” Mark Prausnitz, bioengineering professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US, was quoted as saying in a December 2019 article on the approach.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been funding research into delivering vaccines this way, and this has led to a raft of conspiracy theories.

In March 2020 Bill Gates did say that to track who has been tested or vaccinated, “eventually we will have some digital certificates”.  While he made no reference to using this future technology for any Covid vaccine, this was widely taken out of context. 

To clarify, the foundation in May told US news agency Associated Press that the idea of digital certificates “relates to efforts to create an open source digital platform with the goal of expanding access to safe, home-based testing”.

Would the dye be an “immunity passport” to get around in society? Several fact-checkers have researched this claim and found no evidence for it. Other misleading versions have claimed that a microchip would be implanted.

There is no evidence that the microneedle technology will be used in vaccines to halt the current Covid outbreak nor as a passport to get around in society.

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