One of the challenges for health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic is assessing the health status of travelers arriving at destinations. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that they are developing an IATA travel pass. This digital passport can be the key reopening international borders during the pandemic. It will provide information about the user’s individual covid test results, proof of vaccination, and a link to an electronic copy of their passport. The application will be block-chain based meaning that the service wont store personal data. “Our main priority is to get people traveling again safely. In the immediate term that means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements. And that will eventually develop into a vaccine program. The IATA Travel Pass is a solution for both,” said Nick Careen, IATA's Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security. The IATA Travel Pass should be available within the coming months, according to the company. It will begin with a testing later this year and the app should be available on Apple devices in early 2021, with Android support following a few months later.

IATA is not the only developer working on a digital COVID-19 travel pass. The World Economic Forum has developed an app called CommonPass. It will be rolled out this December. Through this mobile app individuals can access their lab results and vaccination records, and consent to have that information used to validate their COVID-19 status without revealing any other underlying personal health information. Lab results and vaccination records can be accessed through existing health data systems, national or local registries or personal digital health records on Apple Health for iOS and CommonHealth for Android. At the moment, it can be difficult for border officials to trust lab results or vaccination records from another country. There is no standard format or certification system for lab results. Both new digital passports should make travel a bit easier, allowing travelers to carry their COVID-19 test result in a standardized format that is instantly recognizable to officials. In this way the passengers can demonstrate that they meet the health entry requirements of their destination. In addition, in the UK and in Chile a new plan appeared to issue coronavirus 'immunity passports' so people can leave the lockdown early and allow them to return to work. Those people would recieve these certificates who have recovered from Covid-19. However Scientists remain unsure about the extent to which a past infection could prevent reinfection and how long an immunity would remain. "There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection," the WHO said on Friday. Immunity certificates could even be harmful, because they could lead people to ignore public health advice and therefore increase the risk of transmitting the disease. The above mentioned proves that many governments are now trying to find ways to ease their lockdown restrictions and to restart their economy. For global travel and trade to return to pre-pandemic levels, the new digital health pass will contribute a lot.