Digital health pass underway for more efficient travel screening

Digital health pass

A novel method is currently being used at airports that document passengers’ Covid-19 test status. Known as a digital health pass, and dubbed as the CommonPass, it will enable safer cross border travel by instilling confidence in both travelers and governments amid the pandemic.

The digital health pass is currently being trialed on Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways as well as U.S.-based United Airlines with select volunteers on flights between London, Hong Kong, New York, and Singapore.

Using the CommonPass is fairly simple and straightforward. 

Travelers need to take a test at a certified lab and then simply upload their results to their smartphones. They then may have to complete additional health screening questionnaires that are required by their destination country. 

After the test results are uploaded and the questionnaires filled out, CommonPass confirms the traveler’s compliance with the destination country entry requirements and will generate a QR code. This code will then be scanned by airline personnel and staff and border officials and can even be printed for users without mobile devices. 

The digital health pass has been developed by the Commons Project Foundation, a Swiss-based non-profit company that dedicate their attention on digital services for the common good and are backed by the World Economic Forum. As CommonPass is being tested, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are closely observing progress and results of the digital health pass. 

According to a statement by the Commons Project, CommonPass has been specifically designed to protect personal data with compliance to the relevant privacy regulations, including GDPR.

A study recently published in The Lancet medical journal, raises several questions about the ethics of a digital health pass. The study mentions key points such as steps that can be taken to prevent the production of fraudulent immunity passports and being extremely careful about privacy issues and information governance.