Vaccine passports – a guide to the different options

As vaccinations are rolled out in many parts of the world, discussions continue about the possibility of having some kind of “vaccine passport” to prove that travellers are protected against Covid-19.

The digital passports are likely to appear as apps on smartphones, and will document the health status of travellers, keeping record of both vaccination and negative Covid tests. These would have to be recognised by individual governments to allow international travel.

Several different companies and international bodies are suggesting a variety of technological solutions at the moment to document and verify travellers’ health status. Here, we round up the different “passports” on trial at the moment.

AOKPass

Who’s behind it?

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has collaborated with International SOS and the SGS Group to create this digital, secure and portable copy of medical records.

How does it work?

Once individuals have medical results, they can enter the information into an app to create a pass. A unique code is generated and shown to the individual and their medical practitioner for them to verify the information. They will then be able to show the QR code for verification at airports.

Where is it available?

Successful trials took place on flights last year between Abu Dhabi and Pakistan. Since then, Alitalia has begun a pilot scheme to digitise Covid-19 rapid antigen test results via the passport for flights from Rome to New York.

Passengers travelling to Singapore from Indonesia and Malaysia can also use the pass to show their Covid-19 test results at dedicated immigration lanes at Changi airport. International SOS states that this will be rolled out to other international travellers “in the coming months”.

Etihad recently announced that it will pilot digital health passport ICC AOKpass on routes between Paris and Abu Dhabi.

Is my data secure?

The AOKpass states that medical records are stored only on your device and will not be shared or stored elsewhere. The pass is verified without the need of showing any personal or medical information, and travellers can “choose when and where to share [their] information”. The information is secured using a “hashing algorithm so that it can’t be read by anyone else”.

CommonPass

Who’s behind it?

The Commons Project has partnered with the World Economic Forum to launch this digital health passport.

How does it work?

Lab results and vaccination records will be accessed through existing health data systems, national or local registries or personal digital health records such as Apple Health and CommonHealth. Individuals will need to consent to the information being used to validate their Covid status. The technology will then assess whether the results and records come from a trusted source and whether they satisfy the health screening requirements of the country they wish to enter. There will be a simple yes/no answer to whether the individual meets the entry criteria. Travellers will  receive a unique confirmation code that they can show at the airport to board the flight. CommonPass also states that those who lack smartphones will be able to print off a confirmation code and show it at the airport.

Where is it available?

The first trials were completed in October with Cathay Pacific between Hong Kong and Singapore, and United Airlines between London and New York. Since then, carriers including Jetblue, Lufthansa, Swiss and Virgin Atlantic have trialled the technology.

Is my data secure?

CommonPass states that it won’t reveal “any other underlying personal health information” and that Apple Health and CommonHealth “let individuals store their health records securely and privately on their phones, entirely under their control”.

Health Pass by Clear

Who’s behind it?

The airport biometrics provider Clear has moved into the public health arena in the US, launching a Health Pass within its mobile app.

How does it work?

This service is designed for businesses to keep employees and customers safe.  First, users must add an ID, and verify their identity with a selfie.  They can then complete a real-time health survey and upload Covid-related lab results directly from an approved lab provider. Once at a participating location, users should go to the Clear pod and undergo a temperature scan, and then show or scan their health pass (either by facial recognition or a QR code) to gain access to the location. The pod will show a red or green light to denote whether the user has passed or failed the screening.

Where is it available?

The Health Pass is being used by over 35 organisations across various industries.

Clear has also launched partnerships with the likes of MGM Resorts and the 9/11 Museum in New York to use the app to screen its staff for the virus.

Is my data secure?

The specific answers to survey questions or any specific test results are not provided to third party partners or employers.

IATA Travel Pass

Who’s behind it?

The International Air Transport Association has designed a digital health pass that will support the safe reopening of borders.

How does it work?

The mobile app contains information required by many authorities. The pass enables authorised labs and test centres to securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers. Passengers can then create a digital passport and share  testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel.  In effect the Travel Pass contains the information to verify if a passenger is eligible to undertake their travel journey.

Where is it available?

IATA has recently partnered with Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways to launch the Travel Pass for passengers.

Etihad will offer guests the pass on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of 2021, and if successful, roll this out to other destinations on the airline’s network.

Emirates will launch the pass for customers travelling from Dubai in April. Travellers will be able to share their Covid-19 test status directly with the airline before reaching the airport through the app.

Qatar Airways will begin trials of the app on its Doha-Istanbul route in March.

Is my data secure?

IATA says that the Travel Pass “will keep passengers in control of their data and facilitate the sharing of their tests with airlines and authorities for travel”.

IBM Digital Health Pass

Who’s behind it?

IBM Watson Health has designed a digital wallet product for smartphones.

How does it work?

The product enables organisations to verify health credentials for employees, customers and visitors entering their site based on their own set of criteria. This might include Covid-19 test results, temperature scans, and vaccine status. It aims to “bring people back to a physical location, such as a workplace, school, stadium or airline flight.”

Where is it available?

At the moment, the National Institutes of Health (part of the US Department of Health and Human Services) and Salesforce have signed on to trial the pass. Salesforce will provide individuals with “a verifiable and privacy-preserving way to manage and share their vaccination and health status in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic” via its Salesforce Work.com platform.

Is my data secure?

IBM states that the encrypted digital wallet allows individuals to “control what they share, with whom and for what purpose”. The company adds that, through the use of blockchain technology, the health pass can be “verified, trusted and tamperproof”.

The Mvine-iProov passport 

Who’s behind it?

Biometrics firm iProov has partnered with cyber security group Mvine to launch this passport. It is also backed by Innovate UK – a non-departmental public body funded by a grant from the UK government.

How does it work?

This technology enables people to register a test result or vaccination status without disclosing their identity. The medical professional administering the vaccine will be able to create the online certificate using a phone or tablet and then ask the user to have a selfie added to their electronic certificate.

The technology “does not discrimate against people based on the kind of smartphone they own, and there is a route for people who do not possess smartphones – i.e. a card-based method.

Where is it available?

It is currently being tested by Directors of Public Health within the NHS, with two trials expected to be completed by March 31, 2021.

Is my data secure?

The certificate is completely anonymous and “does not need to include the name, address, NHS number or any other identifying information about the person”. When the person wishes to present their certificate, they show for example a QR code and merely need to verify their face against the image attached to their online certificate using any mobile phone or tablet equipped with the app. According to the providers, “an individual therefore cannot be verified without their knowledge and consent… Apart from the certificate number and the biometric, no other identity information is required or stored online.”

Scan2Fly

Who’s behind it?

Air Asia has developed this digital health pass in partnership with analytics company GrayMatter.

How does it work?

The app aims to streamline health document checks and determine eligibility to travel. Passengers will be prompted to provide any documents required by the destination country and will then need to scan and upload medical certificates at the time of online check-in. AirAsia will then analyse the documents in real-time and either approve or reject the travel status.

Where is it available?

The technology has already launched on routes from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, Surabaya and Jakarta.

Is my data secure?

Graymatter states that its cloud-hosted system is “equipped with robust information security”.

Verifly

Who’s behind it?

Verifly has been created by software engineering company Daon and consists of a digital health passport app. The app is flexible and aims to cater to various traveller requirements, with Daon adding that it would be possible to add a vaccine credential into the Verifly service in the future.

The app currently has over 100,000 subscribers, and there has been a rapid uptick in the rate of adoption in the past few weeks.

How does it work?

The digital health passport streamlines verification of Covid-19 tests and other health documentation. Passengers will first have to consent to the terms and conditions, and provide their first name, surname and a valid email address. They will then need to take a selfie and verify their account by clicking a link in the email. Once validated, passengers can add a pass to the “My Passes” screen and view the necessary travel requirements and instructions for their destination. Users will need to enter flight details and travel details such as nationality and date of birth.

To fulfil the entry requirements for the destination they are travelling to, users will have to fill out forms (such as an attestation for the US, or the passenger locator form in the UK) and will be asked to upload a Covid-19 test result including information such as the date and time of test, type of test, lab location and confirmation that it’s negative. Only Covid test types accepted for the destination will be presented to the user.

Once submitted, trained staff will verify the information through a series of checks and ask the user to provide more information if they are unsure of its legitimacy. Daon is currently putting in place direct connections with lab and testing companies so that it can check the results more easily. Once checked, the app will then provide either a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ message. The final step is a ‘pre-airport’ checklist that you have a valid passport, a negative Covid-19 test and that you are not experiencing symptoms of the virus. Once users reach the airport, they can present their pass by scanning the QR code at the checkpoint gate or showing it to a pass provider staff member.

Daon states that it is very easy to add new form types or update existing ones to abide by the ever-evolving government policies and visa requirements around the world. This might cover, for instance, the new requirement to declare the reason for travel in the UK – there are ongoing discussions on the exact requirements mandated by the UK government.

Where is it available?

The app is currently being used by British Airways and American Airlines.

American Airlines introduced the health passport for travellers on all international routes to the US in January. This followed an earlier trial on select routes from South America and the Caribbean. The airline has said that thousands of customers have already travelled using the app.

British Airways begins the trial on February 4 on all of its transatlantic routes between London and the US (currently New York JFK, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Washington, Houston and Seattle). The airline states that a second phase of the trial will follow “in the near future”, allowing customers to use the app when travelling from the US to the UK with either BA or American Airlines. The focus is currently on routes to the US, but the airline states that it will roll out the service to other destinations in the future.

The app is a voluntary proposition and passengers can instead provide evidence that they meet US entry requirements at check-in should they prefer. The use of the app, however, will save time when travelling as users can fill in the paperwork at home rather than at the airport – there will also be dedicated check-in desks for certified customers.

BA states that, despite trialling Verifly, it will continue to work with IATA on the IATA Travel Pass and is hopeful for the integration between various apps to provide solutions to all the countries the carrier flies to.

Is my data secure?

Verifly states that its “design ensures the privacy of the individual and keeps the credentials and biometric data of the person on the device. Users have the ability to establish an identity and strongly assert that identity through the smart phone or biometric authentication.”

Users can also delete their account at any time, and all data will be deleted and cannot be restored.

Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI)

Who’s behind it?

A coalition of health and technology partners including Microsoft, Oracle and The Commons Project.

How does it work?

It aims to allow individuals to access to their vaccination records “in a secure, verifiable and privacy-preserving way”. The coalition is developing standards for organisations administering vaccines to make credentials available in an accessible, interoperable, digital format.

Individuals will obtain an encrypted digital copy of their vaccination records to store in a digital wallet of their choice. VCI also said that people could receive printed QR codes with verifiable information.

Via https://www.businesstraveller.com/features/vaccine-passports-a-guide/