One of the challenges for health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic is assessing the health status of travelers arriving at destinations. A new digital health pass called CommonPass will hopefully make the process easier. It's set to be rolled out in December and major airlines including JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic, are on board.

It can be difficult for border officials to trust lab results or vaccination records from another country. Challenges include that they are frequently printed out, written in a foreign language and obtained from unknown or uncertified labs. Without the ability to trust individual health data from another country, many nations feel compelled to retain full travel bans and mandatory quarantines for as long as the pandemic persists.

The new CommonPass should make travel that bit easier, allowing travelers to carry their COVID-19 test result in a standardized format that is instantly recognizable to officials. It will enable destinations to set specific health screening requirements – such as a negative PCR test before departure – and have confidence that the travelers they admit actually satisfy those requirements. This will allow countries to carefully reopen their borders and allow international travel and trade to resume, while protecting their populations’ health.

Through the CommonPass mobile app, created by the Commons Project Foundation and the World Economic Forum individuals can access their lab results and vaccination records, and consent to have that information used to validate their COVID-19 status without revealing any other underlying personal health information. Lab results and vaccination records can be accessed through existing health data systems, national or local registries or personal digital health records on Apple Health for iOS and CommonHealth for Android.

The initial pilot deployment of the CommonPass framework was trialed by United Airlines on a COVID-free flight from New York to London. Now JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic will begin the roll-out of CommonPass app in December on select flights departing from New York, Boston, London, and Hong Kong. Full scale deployment of the framework is planned for the beginning of 2021. Further information can be found on The Commons Project's website here.

This article was first published on October 8 and updated on December 3, 2020.

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This article was first published Oct 8, 2020 and updated Dec 3, 2020.

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