Reuters reported the other day that, “The World Health Organization on Friday refrained from advising proof of COVID-19 vaccination or immunity as a condition for international travel, citing “critical unknowns” regarding their efficacy in reducing transmission and limited availability.”
Without proof of having received a COVID vaccine, if they don’t want people to quarantine, it leaves countries requiring proof of testing negative for the virus. And, obviously, if you’re flying to another country, it will be up to the airlines, or at least designated airport staff, to ensure that passengers are negative.
I wonder how much (and fear how little) they’re all on the same page with that.
Effective January 26th, all international passengers flying into the U.S. will need to prove a negative COVID-19 test before boarding. We’re very late to that game – other countries have required such proof of testing for months.
We’ve already seen reports such as:
- 200 Russian passengers on the same flight with the exact same COVID test results
- 25 Ugandan passengers who were arrested for forging their COVID test results
- 3 American passengers were detained in Colombia after showing false negative COVID results
You start to wonder how we will all show proof and have it be foolproof that it’s the real deal?
With an app, of course!
It’s way too easy to forge a piece of paper or even a photo that says you’re negative. However, it’s significantly more difficult to change the results on an approved app. But then there’s another potential problem: all the “health passport” apps that are coming down the pike!
- CommonPass was trialed by United and Cathay Pacific last year and is now being trialed by JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
- Clear started working on COVID-19 apps early on and now has one called Health Pass. Currently in use for businesses, it could easily be in use at airports as well.
- Travel Pass is being developed by/for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and is about to be tested by Emirates
- VeriFLY is being used by American Airlines
- AOKPass is planned to be in use in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia
- Healthvana has partnered with Los Angeles County and wants to lead the way for digitizing vaccine and other COVID-related data for airlines. It could potentially be loaded into Apple Wallet for iPhone users.
And those are what I’ve found just with a short time of Googling; who knows what else could be coming down the pike.
But it brings up some important questions:
- Will you have to use the airline’s or country’s app of choice? What if you’re flying on American, didn’t download VeriFLY, but have your health info on CommonPass? Is that “good enough?”
- If you can indeed “mix and match” apps, how would a Delta employee know that a lesser-known app, such as AOKPass, is legitimate? Or that MFCR (which some guy developed in his mom’s basement and stands for “Make Fake COVID Results”) is not?
We’ve already seen the mess that happens when there’s a “patchwork” of rules and regulations, such as what happened when the states were allowed to “do their own thing” to mitigate COVID throughout 2020. When you compare that to how New Zealand handled the virus (clear, concise, uniformity) and how much better they’ve done than we have, you can see that “patchwork” rules don’t work very well.
On the other hand, international documents such as passports are standardized. Save for the information that’s specific to individual countries and people, everyone’s passport is essentially the same, regardless of where in the world you are. That helps customs workers (well, and machines that read chips LOL) know that your passport is legit.
So I, for one, hope the countries and airlines eventually go for some sort of uniformity. And maybe that is the eventual plan and I’m just not privy to such things. But right now, to this outsider, health app development seems like the wild west and that might not be in the global best interest.
Feature Photo: Pixabay
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary