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Why does French vaccine pass remain valid after positive Covid test?

Fully vaccinated people still retain access to pass for the duration of their infection, although they should be self-isolating until they recover

The TousAntiCovid app maintains vaccine passes even when their owners have Covid because of technological and legal limitations on the use of people’s data Pic: Koshiro K / Shutterstock

Reader question: Why is it that the vaccine pass does not become temporarily invalid when someone receives a positive Covid test result when at the same time unvaccinated people who test negative cannot access a pass at all? 

There are several reasons why a person’s vaccine pass is not deactivated in the TousAntiCovid app for the period in which they have Covid.

Fully vaccinated people who test positive for Covid are required to self-isolate for at least five days so should not be trying to enter venues where vaccine passes are needed in any case.

However, the fact that the pass normally depends on vaccination records means that, in theory, a Covid-positive person could still go to spaces including museums and restaurants. 

Read more: Checklist: Where are vaccine passes required in France?

The first reason why the vaccine passes are not invalidated for a time is that, in France, Covid test results are stored in the SI-DEP platform, while vaccination records are kept in VAC-SI.

The two databases are separate entities, although names and dates of birth may be matched to estimate, for example, the proportion of people hospitalised with Covid who have been vaccinated, in order to create a picture of the epidemic dynamic at a given moment.

This cross-referencing does not serve to identify individual people but rather to create a theoretical persona to make connections between different pieces of information. The collected data is then deleted. 

“The law neither technically nor juridically authorises testing and vaccination databases to be combined,” the Direction générale de la santé (DGS) of France’s health ministry told BFMTV.

France is also required to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), under which public bodies should seek to limit the amount of personal information they collect. 

Therefore, in reality it is impossible for the vaccine pass system to know for sure whether a person who tests positive is vaccinated or not, and so their passes cannot be invalidated. 

“In addition, from a health point of view it is not advisable: the risk is that vaccinated people would stop getting tested if they had symptoms or if they thought they might have Covid, for fear of losing their pass,” the DGS said. 

Fully vaccinated people should self-isolate for five days from their positive test, after which time they may leave if they test negative and have not been experiencing symptoms for the last 48 hours. If they test positive they must stay in quarantine until seven days have passed. 

Unvaccinated people must self-isolate for seven days, after which time they can go out again if they test negative and have not had symptoms for the last 48 hours. If not, they must stay in isolation until 10 days have passed. 

Related articles 

How to get a Covid recovery certificate in France and as a tourist?

French vaccine pass: third dose not needed if had two jabs and Covid

Expiry warning wrongly shows on some French vaccine passes due to bug

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