Are Covid passes worthless? Loophole allows ANYONE to get NHS passport to attend crowded venues without having a jab or taking a test
- NHS Covid passes should be issued to those with both jabs and a negative test
- But a loophole in the system allows Britons to secure a pass without these
- Experts last night branded the passes ‘dangerous’ and ‘worse than worthless’
A major flaw in the system means anyone can get an NHS Covid Pass to attend crowded venues without having a jab or taking a test.
Experts last night branded the passports ‘dangerous’ and ‘worse than worthless’ for giving people a false sense of security.
The passes should only be issued to those who have received both doses of the vaccine, recovered from infection or recently tested negative.
But only the serial number from a free rapid test from NHS Test and Trace is needed to secure a pass.
The Government website where people report their result asks users to enter the serial number and select if the test was positive or negative. Critically, it makes no effort to validate the result.
Scammers who have tested positive or not used the device can tick ‘negative’ and receive a confirmatory email and text message within minutes.
The NHS app also updates to show they have a pass, with their name and a green tick.
Britons are only meant to get an NHS Covid pass if they have got both doses, recovered from an infection or tested negative for the virus. But a loophole in the system allows anyone to get the pass simply by entering a test serial number and saying they have tested negative
Spectators at Wimbledon are asked to show an NHS Covid pass to gain entry to events
Nightclub bosses say they will refuse to check vaccine passes
Ministers set up a potential Covid clash with owners of nightclubs and other large venues today with a threat to force them to use Covid passports to admit revellers.
From July 19 places which host mass entertainment events indoors are being urged to require ‘Covid certification’ of vaccination status as a condition of entry.
But guidance released by the Government last night warned that it will consider making the system ‘mandatory’ in future if steps to limit the spread of Covid are not taken by firms.
The small print could set up a bitter row with businesses, after nightlife firms suggested that the passports would seriously impede their operation.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said today: ‘We are hugely concerned that the Government have caused yet more confusion by suggesting these measures are not mandatory while, at the same time, the details reveal clearly that this could well be the case in future.
‘This type of ambiguous communication is creating chaos amongst customers and operators, and presents a very different ”Freedom Day” to what we have all looked forward to.’
Peter Marks, chief executive of REKOM UK, which owns 42 nightclubs including chains Pryzm, Bar&Beyond, Eden and Fiction, last night said he was ‘thrilled’ to be able to reopen next Monday ‘at full capacity and without any requirement for a negative Covid test, something we believe would create a barrier to both customer enjoyment and getting the industry back on its feet’.
Spectators at the Wimbledon tennis championships and Euro 2020 football matches had to show an NHS Covid Pass to gain entry to the events.
Boris Johnson said more venues will be expected to rely on the checks when restrictions are relaxed next week.
He told a Downing Street briefing: ‘As a matter of social responsibility we’re urging nightclubs and other venues with large crowds to make use of the NHS Covid Pass as a means of entry.’
But Dr Bharat Pankhania, a clinical lecturer in public heath at the University of Exeter Medical School, warned of a ‘super-massive flaw in governance’.
He added: ‘This loophole means the NHS Covid Pass is worse than worthless and actually dangerous.
‘It places other people at risk of harm by creating a false sense of security.
‘Some people who use the system in good faith will be attending crowded venues and assuming others there are vaccinated or Covid-free. In fact they may be surrounded by people who are positive and gamed the system to get in to a gig, restaurant or sporting event they were desperate to attend.’
He added: ‘The checks and balances are not in place and people cannot trust the Covid pass to keep them safe. It needs an overhaul.’
Professor Jon Deeks, an expert in Covid testing at the University of Birmingham, was also scathing.
He said: ‘You only need to enter the code number and don’t need to do the test. The system is now based entirely on trust.
‘We wait to see what the Government pilots at the Euro 2020 matches can tell us about the disease spread, if they are able to measure it.
‘However, vaccines, social distancing and getting national infection levels low are going to be more effective at making events safe than asking individuals to complete lateral flow tests.’
The Government has spent £2.8billion on the Innova devices which are distributed by NHS Test and Trace.
About 4.8million lateral flow tests were conducted in England in the week to June 30, latest figures show, of which 38,325 were reported as positive.
All adults and children are entitled to two free rapid tests each week, available from pharmacies or for order online.
They are mainly used to detect Covid in people without symptoms but have been criticised for their accuracy.
Some pupils have faked results to get time off school and to get their entire bubble sent home.
A Government spokesman said the ‘overwhelming majority’ of Britons have acted in the public interest during the pandemic, including isolating and getting vaccinated.
He added: ‘It is imperative that everyone completing a lateral flow test takes responsibility to register the correct result.’