You may need a ‘COVID-19 passport’ to travel in 2021

When it comes to traveling in 2021, you might have to remember to bring two passports.

Several companies are developing “passport” apps that can vouch for a person’s coronavirus vaccine and tests statuses. The verification could then be used for traveling on planes or attending large gatherings such as concerts, reported CNN.

One such passport, developed by the Common Trust Network, is partnering with airlines including JetBlue, United, Virgin Atlantic, Swiss Air Lines, Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa, and hundreds of health systems in the US and Aruba.

Called the CommonPass app, users can upload a COVID-19 test result, or eventually, proof from a medical professional that they received both doses of the vaccine.

Instead of revealing personal information, the app would generate a certificate in the form of a QR code that could be scanned by flight attendants or security personnel. The app will also list the health requirements at the a traveler’s departure and arrival destination.

“You can be tested every time you cross a border. You cannot be vaccinated every time you cross a border,” said the Commons Project’s spokesperson Thomas Crampton.

Smartphone apps may soon be our ticket out.
Natee Meepian/CommonPass

They’re not the only ones looking to the future of gathering in tight spaces. IBM is developing a Digital Health Pass, which would allow venues to set health requirements for entry, such as a negative test, vaccination and a temperature check. Results would be stored in a digital wallet.

Some companies are also developing a smart card which can store credentials for those who don’t have smartphones.

“For us it’s [about] how that digital credential can be stored, can be presented, not only through smartphones but also in other ways for those people who don’t have access to stable internet and also who don’t own smartphones,” Lucy Yang, co-lead of the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative, explained. “We’re looking into it, and there are companies who are doing really promising work.

Although they’ll be effective in communicating information, there’s no way to know if the passports will make travel safer.

“We still don’t know if vaccinated people can transmit infection or not,” Dr. Julie Parsonnet, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford University, told CNN.

“Until that is clarified, we won’t know whether ‘passports’ will be effective.”