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COVID-19: United Airlines Trials Global Health App on UK-US Flight

: Oct 22, 2020 - : 6:17 pm

As part of the attempts to kick-start global travel and open international borders, United Airlines has trialed a digital health pass on a flight between London Heathrow and Newark Liberty International, New Jersey, on Oct. 21.

The CommonPass system is a nonprofit initiative backed by the World Economic Forum and Swiss-based foundation The Commons Project. The digital health pass aims to set a common international standard for COVID-19 test results, together with future vaccine records, so that countries worldwide can allow international travelers.

“The goal of these trials is to demonstrate to governments that they can rely on someone getting tested in one country and present their credentials in another country,” Paul Meyer, chief executive of The Commons Project, told Reuters news agency.

Volunteers on the United flight were observed by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they uploaded COVID-19 test results from a certified lab to their smartphones and completed required health screening questions to generate a verified QR (quick response) code that airline staff and border officials scanned. They then presented the code, which were printed for passengers without mobile devices, before departing and on arrival.  The app is designed to protect personal data and privacy.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in April, as many as 194 countries implemented visa restrictions and 143 closed their borders.  Domestic travel has recovered in some countries, but international travel is still significantly affected even though some countries have started to gradually ease travel restrictions. The first trial of the digital health pass took place earlier in October on a Cathay Pacific flight between Hong Kong and Changi Airport in Singapore.

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