Just as the race to invent a vaccine dominated headlines months ago, the topic du jour at the center of getting back to life’s great pleasures -including cross-border travel– is the health passport. Like most things these days, the race is on to eliminate paper and all of the associated problems and inconveniences. The concept of a health or immunity passport is a digital pass that enables a person’s test results or vaccination status to be registered and proved on our phone (or watch).
Skeptics understandably point to complexities over positive ID match, the specificity of testing, timing, and data privacy. Nonetheless, business travelers looking to return to the road long for ease, bypassing check-in counters and lines at security and border control checkpoints. These proponents see a health passport as the holy grail to resuming life as we knew it, and fast.
Major tech providers and new entrants have made headway working with some airlines, testing multiple solutions and building components of their own out of absolute necessity.
IATA introduced its Travel Pass, which contains a set of modules to help airlines and their passengers understand destination requirements, find testing locations, securely transfer results to a device, and prove they’ve met COVID-19 testing requirements. This week, Emirates became one of the first airlines to announce its partnership.
The Common Project’s Common Pass, backed by the World Economic Forum (WEF), is also being tested by multiple airlines and governments.
So far, the focus remains on proving testing results. Proof of vaccination is not yet a substitute in any travel situation yet seen.
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