COVID-19 and borders

United AirlinesPassengers wearing facemasks is testing a digital health pass under a global pilot program. This serves to establish a common international standard for coronavirus test results. Eventually, it should lead to vaccine records that could help reopen borders. The nonprofit initiative is called CommonPass and is backed by the World Economic Forum and The Commons Project. The initiators hope to persuade governments to ease the restrictions and quarantines. For they have slammed air travel since the coronavirus started to spread across the globe.

Digital health pass

A United flight from London Heathrow to Newark Liberty International in New Jersey aims at testing the digital health pass. It follows another test flight, namely by Cathay Pacific. Other large airlines are also planning international trials in November and December.

Paul Meyer, chief executive of the CommonPass

Paul Meyer

“The goal is to demonstrate to governments that they can rely on someone getting tested in one country and present the credentials in another country,” says Paul Meyer, chief executive of the CommonPass.

QR code

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will observe the United flight. Volunteers on the flight will upload COVID-19 test results from a certified lab to their smartphones. Next, they will complete any required health screening questions to generate a verified QR code that airline staff and border officials can scan.

For passengers without mobile devices the code can be printed. Both before departing and on arrival the volunteers will present the code to officials.

Certified vaccination records

Passenger checking digital health pass

The project aims at building a network of trusted labs and will rely on those results and vaccination records to be certified across borders. Those records will replace the current method of sharing paper-based and easily falsified test results from unknown labs.

The labs will verify a person’s identity for the app, which is designed to protect personal data and privacy. But the model only works if countries agree to trust health data from other countries.

Related: Flying in coronavirus era, How safe is flying in the corona era? and Tell me only what I want to hear

Tags: coronavirus, digital health pass, reopening borders

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