Where Is Your COVID-19 Immunity Passport?

CommonPass enables international travel and accelerates country border reopenings
international travel terminal
World Wide (Vax Before Travel)

The Commons Project Foundation and the World Economic Forum announced the launching of international trials for CommonPass, a digital health pass for travelers to securely verify their COVID-19 test status.

The goal of the trials is to replicate the full traveler experience of taking a test for COVID-19 prior to departure, uploading the result to their phones, and demonstrating their compliance with entry requirements at departure and destination airports.

The purpose of CommonPass and the CommonPass Framework is to enable safer airline and cross border travel stated these organizations in a press release published on October 7, 2020.

“Travel and tourism have been down across the board due to the COVID pandemic,” said Diane Sabatino, Deputy Executive Director, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). “CBP wants to be part of the solution to build confidence in air travel, and we are glad to help the aviation industry and our federal partners stand up a pilot like CommonPass.”

To use CommonPass, travelers take a COVID-19 test at a certified lab and upload the results to their mobile phone. They then complete any additional health screening questionnaires required by the destination country.

With test results and questionnaire complete, CommonPass confirms a traveler’s compliance with the destination country entry requirements and generates a QR code. That code can be scanned by airline staff and border officials. A QR code can be printed for users without mobile devices.

CommonPass adheres to tight privacy principles and is designed to protect personal data in compliance with relevant privacy regulations, including GDPR.

For governments, CommonPass and the CommonPass Framework provide a more reliable means of assessing the health status of incoming travelers and gives them the flexibility to adapt their entry requirements as the pandemic evolves, including whether and what type of lab tests or vaccinations to require.

“Without the ability to trust COVID-19 tests - and eventually vaccine records - across international borders, many countries will feel compelled to retain full travel bans and mandatory quarantines for as long as the pandemic persists,” said Dr. Bradley Perkins, Chief Medical Officer of The Commons Project and former Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

“With trusted individual health data, countries can implement more nuanced health screening requirements for entry.”

Perkins added that the ability to share health information in a verifiable, safe, and privacy-protecting manner is key to opening borders, whether traveling by land or air.

Cathay Pacific Airways and United Airlines will trial the system in October 2020, with select volunteers on flights between London, New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore, with government authorities observing. Deployments are planned with additional airlines and routes across Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East in quick succession.

For Cathay Pacific Airways, the first internal trial is planned for a flight between Hong Kong International Airport and Singapore Changi International Airport, using rapid testing technology provided by Prenetics.

“Our goal is to test and refine a system that would best support the progressive and safe re-opening of travel, through the adoption of a trusted and harmonized global framework,” said Lavinia Lau, Director Commercial of Cathay Pacific Airways.

For United Airlines, the first airline to trial the platform in the United States, volunteers will use the service for flights between London Heathrow Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.

“Testing is a key component of a multi-layered approach to safely reopening travel,” said Steve Morrissey, United’s vice president, regulatory and policy. “Trials with solutions like CommonPass are critical to demonstrate the potential for testing as an alternative to blanket quarantine measures or travel restrictions, while we continue to focus on the safety and health of our customers and employees.”

“Partners across the globe are looking for sustainable solutions to keep travel healthy, responsible and safe,” Dr. Martin S. Cetron, Director, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, CDC. “CDC is eager to learn from the CommonPass pilot, as it could be one of the many potential tools that may one day contribute to a safe, responsible, and healthy global air travel experience.”

The Commons Project Foundation is a non-profit public trust building global digital services and platforms for the common good. Founded with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and based in Switzerland, it was established to build and operate the shared platforms and services that neither governments nor tech companies are well-positioned to create. The Commons Project’s public trust governance structure is designed to ensure that people’s interests are served above all.

Vax-Before-Travel publishes research-based travel news.