European Commission walks back Apple vaccine passports comment

Tim Cook
Tim Cook (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • The European Commission has backed off claims that Apple and Google were offering vaccine passport solutions to the WHO.
  • Ursula von der Leyen had previously told reporters the two were "already offering solutions to the WHO".

The European Commission is backing off claims Apple and Google were offering the World Health Organization solutions regarding certificates that could revive travel post-pandemic, more commonly known as "vaccine passports."

From Bloomberg:

The European Commission is backing away from claims that Apple Inc. is talking to the World Health Organization about developing vaccine passports, an argument that its president, Ursula von der Leyen, had used to encourage governments to take matters into their own hands. After a five-hour video call with the European Union's 27 leaders on Thursday, von der Leyen told reporters that it was "important to have a European solution" to establish certificates to enable countries to reopen to travel because "Google and Apple are already offering solutions to the World Health Organization."

Bloomberg notes that "within hours" a spokesperson from the World Health Organization shunned any such rumors, stating "neither Apple nor Google" were involved in such talks. According to Bloomberg, one person familiar with Apple's position said that von der Leyen has "misunderstood" the situation.

Now, a person "close to the commission president" has told Bloomberg that experts from some technology companies are working with the WHO on a private basis, but Apple employees are not among them.

Following talks this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reports that EU nations had all agreed "we need vaccine certificates", but that any such certificate would not be a requisite to traveling and that "no political decisions have been made" on the matter.

Apple and Google have been heavily involved in the pandemic response, creating an exposure notification framework on their respective operating systems to identify close contacts to someone who has tested positive for the virus. However, the uptake of such systems has been limited in most countries, limiting success and impact.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9