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CommonPass: The Digital Health Passport

As borders are beginning to open up for international travel, testing measures are being carried out vigorously at various entry points across the globe to curb the spread of COVID-19. With no current standard verification system to check COVID test results or health reports, the CommonPass Network by The Commons Project based in Switzerland is positioning itself to be an insightful proposition to tackle these problems.

With passengers intending to travel across borders for varying reasons, it stands as the responsibility of the airport and airline officials to conduct thorough checks and keep a tab on people who could potentially be carriers of the virus. When we consider the latest possible mutations of the virus observed in Nigeria and the UK, it becomes even more essential for checks to be implemented at every level to aid in the delay of what we popularly refer to as the ‘second wave.’

The CommonPass is a channel that sets the standards for health data verification pre-flight. It helps bridge the gap between the government authorities and passengers by providing a secure online platform that simplifies the document fragmentation process. It also helps prevent potential fraud, which could pose a major threat to the concerned authorities intending to contain the spread.

So far, Airport Council International and airline companies such as Swiss International, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Jet Blue, and Lufthansa have adopted the digital health passport as an official means for passengers to document and display their health reports on their mobile phones. Trials of the same were conducted on the 21st of October in United’s London Heathrow to Newark flight, followed by Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong to Singapore flight; both airlines further reporting the trials to be a success.

However, other health portals are currently in development apart from the CommonPass. The IATA Travel Pass by the International Air Transport Association is one such portal, which is currently in its development stage and expected to launch any time next year for iOS and Android devices. The International Chamber of Commerce also has its version of a Digital Health Passport, namely AOKpass, currently in use for flights between the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.v

With the global COVID-19 cases reaching a tally of more than 90 million, medical authorities are trying their best to distribute vaccines rapidly. Hence, the need of the hour is for us to avoid non-essential travel until the possible mutations are analysed and to travel cautiously in essential circumstances in hopes that no more lives are taken away by the deadly virus.


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