Miami (CBS Miami / CNN) – For people to travel in 2021, they may eventually need a passport for a coronavirus vaccine.
Many companies and technology groups have begun developing smart phone applications or systems for individuals to upload details of their COVID-19 tests and vaccines, and create digital credentials that can be viewed in order to enter concert venues, stadiums, movie theaters, offices, or even countries.
The Common Trust Network, an initiative launched by The Commons Project and the World Economic Forum, based in Geneva, has partnered with several airlines including Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, as well as hundreds of health systems across the globe. The United States and the Government of Aruba.
The CommonPass app created by the group allows users to upload medical data such as a COVID-19 test result or, ultimately, evidence of vaccination by a hospital or medical professional, and create a health certificate or pass in the form of a QR code that can be shown to authorities without disclosing information. Sensitive. For travel, the app lists health card requirements at the departure and arrival points based on the itinerary.
“You can be tested every time you cross a border. Thomas Crampton, chief marketing and communications officer at The Commons Project, told CNN Business,“ You can’t get vaccinated every time you cross borders. ”He stressed the need for a simple, easy-to-transfer set of credentials. , Or « digital yellow card », referring to the generally issued paper document as evidence of vaccination.
Big tech companies are also getting into this business. IBM has developed its own app, called Digital Health Pass, which allows companies and places to customize the indicators they might need to enter including coronavirus tests, temperature checks and vaccination records. Then the credentials corresponding to those indicators are stored in a mobile wallet.
In an effort to meet one of the challenges of returning to normalcy after distributing vaccines on a large scale, developers may now have to face other challenges, ranging from privacy issues to representing the diverse effectiveness of different vaccines. But a more pressing challenge may simply be avoiding the disjointed implementation and mixed success of an earlier technology attempt to address a public health crisis: contact tracing apps.
Early in the pandemic, Apple and Google put their smartphone competition aside to jointly develop a Bluetooth-based system to notify users if they were exposed to someone with COVID-19. Many countries and state governments around the world have also developed and used their own applications.
« I think the place where the notice of exposure faced some challenges was in terms of partial execution options, and the lack of federal leadership … as each state had to go it alone, and so each state had to find out more about it, » said Jenny Wanger, who leads the board. independent ». The Linux Foundation Public Health Exposure Notification Initiatives, a technology-focused organization that helps public health authorities around the world fight COVID-19.
To encourage better coordination this time, the Linux Foundation has partnered with the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative, a group of more than 300 people representing dozens of organizations across five continents that also works with IBM and CommonPass to help develop a set of global standards for vaccine approval applications.
“If we succeed, you should be able to say: I have a vaccination certificate on my phone that I got when I got vaccinated in one country, with a whole bunch of their own health management practices … I use it to get on a plane to a completely different country, and then I submitted in that New country has vaccination credentials so I can go to that concert that was going indoors and in which attendance was limited to those who showed they got vaccinated, said Brian Behleendorf, CEO of the Linux Foundation.
He said: « It has to be interoperable in the same way that e-mail is interoperable, in the same way that the web is interoperable. » « Right now, we’re in a situation where there are some moving parts that get us closer to that, but I think there’s a sincere commitment from everyone in the industry. »
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Part of ensuring the widespread use of vaccine passports is the account of a large subset of the world’s population who still do not use or have access to smartphones. Some companies within the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative are also developing a smart card that creates a middle ground between traditional paper-based vaccine certificates and an online version that is easy to store and reproduce.
« For us it is [about] How these digital credentials can be stored, can be provided, not only through smartphones but also in other ways to those people who do not have stable internet access and also those who do not own smart phones, ”said Lucy Yang, Co-Leader of the COVID- Credentials Initiative. 19. We’re looking at it, and there are companies that are really doing some promising work.
Once a vaccine passport is built, companies will need to make sure people are comfortable with using it. This means confronting concerns about handling private medical information.
The CommonPass, IBM, and Linux Foundation all emphasized privacy as the center of their initiatives. IBM says it allows users to control and consent to the use of their health data and allows them to choose the level of detail they want to present to the authorities.
« Trust and transparency remain extremely important when developing a platform such as a digital health passport, or any solution that handles sensitive personal information, » the company said in a blog post. « Prioritizing privacy is an important priority for managing and analyzing data in response to these complex times. »
With vaccines manufactured by multiple companies in many countries in different stages of development, there are a lot of variables that passport makers will need to consider.
« An entry point – whether it’s a border or a place – you’ll want to know, have you got the Pfizer vaccine, have you got the Russian vaccine, have you got the Chinese vaccine, so they can make a decision. The variation can be wide: The vaccine that a company developed is … The Chinese drug giant Sinopharm, for example, has an 86% effectiveness against COVID-19, while the vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna have an effectiveness of about 95%.
Dr Julie Parsonet, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford University, says it’s also unclear how effective vaccines are in stopping transmission of the virus. So, while a vaccine passport app shows that you received the shot, it may not be a guarantee to attend an event or ride a ride safely.
She told CNN Business: « We still don’t know whether the vaccinated people can transmit the infection or not. » Until that is clarified, we will not know if « passports » will be effective. «
However, Behleendorf predicts that vaccine passports will be introduced and approved very quickly once everything is in place and he expects that a variety of applications that can work together will be « widely available » during the first half of 2021.
He said « Rest assured, the nerds of her. »
(© 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner company, contributed to this report.)