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Airline travelers reportedly may be required to have COVID-19 ‘passport’ before flying

Navigating the TSA checkpoint at the airport can be challenging even during non-peak times, let alone the Thanksgiving-Christmas season. But there is a new screening process looming: a so-called COVID-10 passport or universal digital health pass that lists traveler vaccination history and test results. Assuming this app goes into implementation on a mandatory basis in the economically hard-hit travel sector, the end game is to share the data with government agencies, air carriers, labs, and travelers themselves.

Owing to the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, vaccines are rolling out sooner rather than later. Bottom line: Theoretically, each passenger may have to get inoculated as a condition of boarding a plane for international and possibly domestic transit pursuant to an initiative being finalized by the International Air Transport Association, the global lobbying organization for the industry.

“Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures. The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements,” an IATA official told The Hill in a statement.

“The pass would enable travelers to find verified testing centers and labs at their point of departure that meet the standards and requirements of their destination to avoid quarantine rules and travel restrictions,” The Hill added about the requirement that could theoretically rejuvenate the travel and tourism industry.

Qantas Airlines of Australia is reportedly considering making passengers get the COVID vaccine before traveling internationally and is likely to change its terms and conditions to reflect this requirement. “I’ve talked to my colleagues at other airlines across the globe, and I think it’s going to be a common theme across the board,” Quantas CEO Alan Joyce said.

Airlines for America, an airline advocacy organization, has appeared noncommittal as to whether the U.S. sector will follow Australia’s lead in this regard. Thus far, moreover, no country has mandated a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of entry.

Common sense suggests this scenario could change quickly when a vaccine goes into the anticipated large-scale distribution and the technology to track airline passengers via a COVID passport app becomes sufficiently refined.This may also create a situation where, among other issues, public health and personal privacy conflict.

Watch a report on the potential COVID passport from the Bloomberg news agency:

According to a Gallup poll released earlier this month, 58 percent of Americans would get an FDA-approved COVID shot when it becomes available (up from 50 percent in a September survey), while 42 percent would decline. Those in the latter category reportedly expressed concern about the rushed timeline for vaccine development and related safety concerns.

Self-described Democrats were more willing (69 percent) than Republicans or independents (49 percent and 47 percent, respectively) to receive a vaccine.

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