Alternative to the CovPass app: Are pharmacies in Germany just inviting criminals to forge an “immune card”?


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Vaccination certificate in credit card format: The “immune card” from the pharmacy in Germany promises a simple solution in the corona pandemic. What is behind it and who benefits from it?

The “immune card” is advertised by pharmacies as a practical alternative to the Corona app, the vaccination pass or the QR code slip. The handy plastic card is just the thing if you forget your cell phone because it is practical. The cost of the “immune card” is around ten euros.

immune card

Why pay for an “immune card” when the app is free?

Not all customers will be willing to spend ten euros on the “immune card”. Ten euros is okay at first. But because you have to do it again after each vaccination, most customers will end up opting for the free Covapp.

Pharmacies in Germany as middlemen

This is how it works: The customer shows his vaccination certificate at the pharmacy. The pharmacy forwards this to the company “APO Pharma Immun”, which then has the cards printed by printers. The vaccination certificate, the QR code, is simply printed on the card.

The pharmacies are a kind of middleman for the private provider of the “immune card” and the customers. The card will then be sent by post. The pharmacy gets a good 3.50 euros per item. You can also order the cards directly online from the provider.

100,000 cards per day – hype about the “immune card”?

The immune cards are produced by a young start-up based in Leipzig. “The immune card is about being very simple and very everyday-friendly,” explains founder Amim Al-Marie. The start-up says it prints around 100,000 cards a day. Half a million people in Bavaria now have the “immune card”. A great success for the 26-year-old pharmacist and founder from Halle.

Alternative: laminate the “immune card” yourself

Even though there are official free alternatives. You could also make the card yourself, says founder Al-Marie. “Of course there are ways to build it yourself. And that’s why I always say that the immune card is an additional offer and not a requirement.” So if you like the idea of ​​a pocket-sized plastic card, you could simply use the laminator yourself.

immune card

Immune cards not an official offer

The cards look official, with a QR code, pharmacy logo and EU symbol – but they are not. The Federal Ministry of Health and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) have nothing to do with the cards.

The Ministry of Health writes that identification is about the validity of the QR code. It is protected from changes by encryption. Whether this code is shown on the mobile phone, on paper or printed on plastic is therefore of secondary importance.

The Ministry of Health writes: “In this respect, it is also possible to show a printout with the corresponding QR code. When checking digital proof of vaccination, a photo ID must also be presented.” The RKI also says: “A vaccination certificate is valid as long as it corresponds to the official format of the digital EU Covid vaccination certificate.”

The fundamental flaw with an “immune card”

Investigators in Munich managed to strike against fraudsters who are said to have produced hundreds of fake QR codes for the digital corona vaccination card and sold them on the Internet. Now all anyone needs is a plastic version of the app.

The “immune card” will be prone to fraud and does not offer any more assurances than the free app.

immune card

Some pharmacies make the card themselves

Like the EU certificate with QR code , the card can generally be obtained from pharmacies. Either this takes the data and gives it to an external service provider to manufacture the card, which according to their knowledge costs between ten and almost 15 euros. In the meantime, however, some pharmacies also have their own devices to produce the immune card, which also contains the QR code, which costs around ten euros.

However, this offer is still less widespread in German pharmacies than the creation of the EU certificate, which can be obtained in around “90 percent of pharmacies”. The immune card is also available in many, but by no means in all, pharmacies. 

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