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Mobile apps created to show COVID-19 test results, vaccination record for travel

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Posted at 11:02 AM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 11:02:09-05

CLEVELAND — With a new year comes new hope. In 2021, millions of people hope life will return to some semblance of normalcy. That includes traveling, attending big events and more.

For some events, though, you may need to show you've received your COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available widespread.

Already tech companies and health organizations are teaming up to create mobile apps that will allow users to upload their medical data, including tests and vaccination records. CommonPass, a mobile app being tested by airline companies, allows app users to control who has access to their data and when. The app's website said, "at any time, an individual can remove their personal data from the CommonPass app."

Dr. Amy Edwards, with University Hospitals, said she's not surprised this kind of work is already being done to make way for a normal lifestyle in the new year.

"Traveling in early 2021 is possible, but certainly by late 2021. If enough of us take the vaccine it's going to be, I mean you won't even you'll have forgotten all about it and we'll be back to normal," Dr. Edwards said.

However, she said this is a unique situation. As of now the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna have only earned their Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. They still need to be formally approved.

"The government's not allowed to require us to be vaccinated with it right now. Now, if the FDA grants these vaccines full approval in the next six months or eight months, then, yes, your kid could be required to have it to go to school. You could be required to have it to do various things," she said.

The biggest hurdle for the new apps or software is protecting a user's medical records and privacy.

Already, international travelers have, in certain countries, been required to travel with their Yellow Book also known as the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP). It's a medical passport recognized internationally and may be required for entry to certain countries where there are increased health risks for travelers.

Dr. Edwards said COVID-19 could be added to the list.

"Any international travelers used to, you know, used to carrying something like this together with their passport. So I would think that would be very easy," she said.

IBM has also created an app called Digital Health Pass. The website for the app said, "Privacy is central to the solution, and the digital wallet can allow individuals to maintain control of their personal health information and share it in a way that is secured, verifiable, and trusted. Individuals can share their health pass to return to the activities and things they love, without requiring exposure of the underlying personal data used to generate the credential."

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