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Digital “health pass” trials underway to help reopen borders Air transport

A new digital “health pass” is to be piloted by a small number of passengers flying from the UK to the US for the first time next week under plans for a global framework for Covid-safe flights.

The CommonPass system, supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF), is designed to create a common international standard for passengers who demonstrate that they do not have coronavirus.

Critics of similar schemes, however, point to concerns about the sensitivity and specificity of the tests in different countries for fear of greater surveillance of people̵

7;s movements.

Paul Meyer, CEO of the Commons project, which received start-up funding from the Rockefeller Foundation two years ago and created the digital health pass, said countries that have closed borders and imposed quarantines are looking for ways to “carefully reopen” their borders.

“It’s hard to do that,” he told the Guardian. “It requires being able to assess the health of incoming travelers … Hopefully we will soon start to see some vaccines coming on the market, but there will not only be one vaccine.

“Some countries will probably say, ‘OK, I would like to see documentation that you have received one of these vaccines, but not one of these vaccines.'”

Pointing out the existing requirements in a number of countries, particularly paper-based evidence for yellow fever vaccination, Meyer said similar evidence – held digitally – for coronavirus could soon be required to travel in the “foreseeable future”.

He added: “This is about risk reduction. There is no completely safe solution. This is about providing information that can help countries reduce the risk of proliferation. ”

The lawsuit applies to passengers flying from Heathrow to Newark, USA, on a United Airlines flight on Wednesday.

Tests from the private test company Prenetics are administered by the travel company Collinson in Covid-19 test facilities set up with Swissport. It follows a pilot of Cathay Pacific on flights between Hong Kong and Singapore.

However, the test commonly used in the UK is not a test for infectivity, experts say, as it does not distinguish between those who have the virus and are contagious and those who are no longer contagious. There have been many false results as a consequence.

There are also suspicions that such schemes could allow for greater monitoring of people’s movements and health status, a paper published in the Lancet said Friday. However, it added that they can facilitate a safer move, and privacy concerns are neither unique nor insurmountable.

CommonPass confirms a traveler’s compliance with US border requirements after a test at London Airport up to 72 hours before travel, along with completing a health examination questionnaire.

A QR code that can be scanned by airline staff and border officials is then produced in case of a negative test. The process of securing a refund for the flight after testing positive was unclear. CommonPass is paid by the airlines for the route.

Most arrivals to the UK are currently to be quarantined for fourteen days, with only about 45 countries on the country’s quarantine-free “travel corridor” list.

Mark Burgess, Director of Process Improvement at Heathrow, told the Times: “For some time, Heathrow has been calling for the creation of a common international standard and cross-border pilots, as these could help governments around the world and industry unleash the benefits. of tests in aviation. ”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport said: “The government is working with the 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 decentralized administrations to develop measures as soon as possible to support the recovery of the travel sector.”

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