Digital ‘health passport’ trials under way to aid reopening of borders


A brand new digital “health passport” is to be piloted by a small quantity of passengers flying from the UK to the US for the primary time subsequent week under plans for a worldwide framework for Covid-safe air journey.

The CommonPass system, backed by the World Economic Forum (WEF), is designed to create a standard worldwide commonplace for passengers to display they don’t have coronavirus.

However, critics of related schemes level to considerations over the sensitivity and specificity of the assessments in numerous nations amid fears over larger monitoring over folks’s actions.

Paul Meyer, the CEO on the Commons Project, which was given startup funding by the Rockefeller Foundation two years in the past and created the digital well being go, mentioned nations which have closed borders and imposed quarantines are in search of methods to “thoughtfully reopen” their borders.

“It’s hard to do that,” he advised the Guardian. “It requires being able to assess the health of incoming travellers … Hopefully, we’ll soon start to see some vaccines come on to the market, but there is not going to be just one vaccine.

“Some countries are going to probably say, ‘OK, I want to see documentation you’ve gotten one of these vaccines, but not one of those vaccines’.”

Pointing to present necessities in a quantity of nations, notably paper-based proof of a yellow fever vaccination, Meyer mentioned related proof – held digitally – for coronavirus may quickly be required to journey for “the foreseeable future”.

He added: “This is about risk mitigation. There is no perfectly safe solution. This is about providing information that can help countries reduce the risk of it spreading.”

The trial will apply for passengers flying from Heathrow to Newark, US, on a United Airlines flight on Wednesday.

Tests from the non-public testing firm Prenetics will probably be administered by the journey and medical companies agency Collinson in Covid-19 testing amenities arrange with Swissport. It follows a pilot by Cathay Pacific on flights between Hong Kong and Singapore.

However, the check used usually within the UK shouldn’t be a check of infectiousness, experts have said, because it doesn’t distinguish between those that have the virus and are infectious and those that are not infectious. There have been many false outcomes as a consequence.

There can also be suspicion that such schemes may present a way in to larger monitoring of folks’s actions and well being statuses, a paper published within the Lancet on Friday mentioned. However, it added, they’ll facilitate safer motion and the privateness considerations are neither distinctive nor insurmountable.

CommonPass confirms a traveller’s compliance with US border necessities after a check on the London airport up to 72 hours earlier than journey together with the completion of a well being screening questionnaire.

A QR code that may be scanned by airline workers and border officers is then produced within the occasion of a detrimental check. The course of of securing a refund for the flight after testing optimistic was unclear. CommonPass will probably be paid by airways for the service.

Most arrivals to the UK presently have to quarantine for a fortnight, with solely round 45 nations on the nation’s quarantine-free “travel corridor” checklist.

Mark Burgess, course of enchancment director at Heathrow, advised the Times: “For some time now Heathrow has been calling for the creation of a common international standard and cross-border pilots as these could help governments across the world and the industry to unlock the benefits of testing in aviation.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson mentioned: “The government is working at pace with industry to identify and implement options to reduce the self-isolation period through testing while protecting public health.

“We are consulting closely with partners from the aviation, travel, healthcare and testing sectors as well as the devolved administrations to develop measures as quickly as possible to support the recovery of the travel sector.”



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