For the world to safely reopen and gradually return to normal after the turbulence of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, major tech companies including IBM and the Commons Project have announced that they are working on COVID-19 vaccine passports for travelers. The vaccine passports will come in form of smartphone mobile applications that will be easy to use and effective in the identification of people that have gotten vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Public health care experts told reporters that as more people get vaccinated, vaccine passports will also be needed to access indoor recreational centers such as movie theaters. The experts noted that it is very crucial to first clarify if people who had been inoculated against the coronavirus can transmit the coronavirus disease to others, as such an eventuality will defeat the purpose of the vaccine passport.
“It is still unclear whether people who have received the vaccines can transmit the coronavirus disease to other people or not,” Dr. Julie Parsonnet, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Stanford University, told reporters during an interview. “Until we have that sorted and clarified, the vaccine passports might not be as effective as projected.”
Tech companies such as IBM are, however, plowing on with the development of the vaccine passport apps while healthcare experts sort out the uncertainties about the COVID-19 vaccine that only recently started rolling out in the United States.
“If this goes as planned, travelers will be able to present the vaccine certificate they received when they got vaccinated, right on their phones, regardless of the country they are traveling to,” said Executive Director of Linux, Brian Behlendorf.
Linux is one of the firms closely working with public healthcare workers over the COVID-19 pandemic. Firms working on vaccine passports project that the passports will be ready for use before July 2021.
The IBM app which is called Digital Health Pass will allow users to share information such as whether they have received the vaccine, their body temperature, and other information that might be needed to get them into indoor establishments in countries around the world. The application, which can be stored in the users’ Google wallets, will only provide basic health information without revealing the underlying medical condition of people, according to the firm’s description on its blog.
The Commons Project, a non-profit public trust, is also working on a vaccine passport called the CommonPass. The app will help ascertain that people have been vaccinated before they are allowed to travel or allowed into indoor centers, according to the firm’s website. The firm told reporters that it is working closely with different airlines such as United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and JetBlue towards the development of the app.