The Scottish Government is exploring what is needed for a digital vaccine app, the Health Secretary has suggested.

Jeane Freeman said that ethical and equality questions would need to be kept under review – but added that she favours a digital certificate over a paper version to reduce any unnecessary burden on the NHS.

Her comments came ahead of a Downing Street news conference later on Monday at which the Prime Minister is expected to set out further details on the planned certification scheme in England.

Proposals were announced at the weekend for a “Covid status certification” scheme – dubbed “vaccine passports” – for mass gatherings south of the border, from sporting events to nightclubs.

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The UK Government has said the certificates could be a mobile phone app or a paper document and they are expected to show whether an individual has received the vaccine, has recently tested negative for the virus, or has “natural immunity” having tested positive in the previous six months.

Ms Freeman told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme there are ethical and equality questions over vaccine passports as not everyone can be inoculated.

She also said there are questions over how the scheme would work.

Ms Freeman said: “We’re currently looking at what would be the digital infrastructure you would need for any form of certification, as we work through those ethical and equality and practical questions about how it might be used and in what circumstances.

“I don’t want it to be paper – where it’s possible I’d want it to be digitally done. I don’t want to put an unnecessary burden on our health service – on our GP practices, for example – with everyone going to them to get the bit of paper that says ‘Yes, I’ve been vaccinated’.”

What has been said?

Last week, Nicola Sturgeons said certificates for both international and domestic use is something that “should be considered”.

Speaking at a media briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “In general terms I agree that it should be looked at.

“I think we should consider how we use some sort of vaccine certification to open up more in the future.

“We’ve got to be careful and considered about how we do that.

“There are still some questions that we still don’t fully know the answer to about the vaccine and its impact on transmission – although the early data on that is all very positive.”

However, she added there are “big ethical” questions about the certificates.

She said: “There are some people who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons, for example, so we need to think through all this.

“The Scottish Government is thinking about it and we are participating in the international and UK-wide work on this as well.

“So, it’s not something that I think is practical right now, but in the future it is possible and I think it is important that we give it proper and due consideration.

“We’ve already had some four nations discussions around this so we’re all thinking through these things in the same way.”