The US government is in talks with UK AI startup Onfido to roll out immunity passports for people who recover from COVID-19

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The US government is in talks with UK AI startup Onfido to roll out immunity passports for people who recover from COVID-19

coronavirus test

Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP

Onfido said its passport would 'include test results tied to a person's identity'

  • Buzzy AI security startup Onfido is in talks to help the US government roll out "immunity passports" for those that have recovered from COVID-19.
  • On Friday, Dr Anthony Fauci said the federal government was considering issuing Americans with immunity certificates.
  • In documents seen by Business Insider, Onfido said its immunity passport would "include test results tied to a person's identity", and claimed it could rapidly scale up to nationwide distribution.
  • Business Insider approached the Department of Homeland Security for comment.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

UK security startup Onfido has held talks with the US government to discuss rolling out coronavirus "immunity passports" throughout the country.

As COVID-19 pushes the global economy further into the depths of recession, officials around the world have mooted the idea of immunity passports for those who have recovered from the disease.

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Experts including Dr Anthony Fauci, who is helping to lead the US response to the pandemic, have expressed confidence that recovered patients would be immune to the disease, thereby allowing them to return to work.

"This is something that's being discussed," he told CNN on Friday. "I think it might actually have some merit under certain circumstances."

Business Insider has learned US government officials have held talks on the matter with Onfido, a London-based security startup that helps clients verify users' identities through a combination of ID documents, selfies and AI algorithms.

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In documents seen by Business Insider, Onfido said its passport design would "include test results tied to a person's identity", and claimed it had "over a dozen partners" that could help it scale up distribution rapidly.

"The immunity passport... needs to be recognizable to law enforcement and other agencies to prove that the person is immune, and that the result belongs to them, and not to someone else," it said.

"We [already] use AI to catch fake IDs better than the human eye...We also work with over a dozen partners who can assist in bringing about an immunity passport program that is scalable, effective and can be piloted and rolled out quickly."

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Speaking to Business Insider, Onfido cofounder and CEO Husayn Kassai confirmed he had taken part in discussions with US officials.

"We're already at a point where thousands of people have had the disease and recovered," he said. "But they have no way to prove it... That's where we come in."

Kassai told Business Insider the firm had also submitted proposals for immunity passports to at least one European government but declined to comment when asked which one.

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The UK government is currently mulling plans for such passports, with health secretary Matt Hancock saying they would allow many people to return to "normal life".

Business Insider approached the Department of Homeland Security, the Health Department and the National Institutes of Health for comment.

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