Your pre-travel checklist may be about to get longer as airlines and companies look to implement "vaccine passport" requirements.
The Common Trust Network, a partnership between airlines, the World Economic Forum and the non-profit The Commons Project, recently introduced the CommonPass App. The app would allow users to upload medical data such as COVID-19 test results or proof of vaccination. The information is then transmitted through a QR code that would protect sensitive information.
Users could also utilize the app to go shopping or go to the movies, depending on the requirements for different businesses and venues.
"Without the ability to trust COVID-19 tests - and eventually vaccine records - across international borders, many countries will feel compelled to retain full travel bans and mandatory quarantines for as long as the pandemic persists," Dr. Bradley Perkins with The Commons Project said in a statement. "With trusted individual health data, countries can implement more nuanced health screening requirements for entry."
Tech company IBM also recently unveiled its Digital Health Pass. The program allows companies and organizations to create their own requirements including test results, proof of vaccination or temperature checks.
Ticketmaster is drawing up plans to get people to safely return to music venues. Concertgoers may have digital tickets that will either show if they had a COVID-19 vaccine or tested negative for the virus leading up to the day of the event. The information will be stored with a third-party health care provider in compliance with HIPPA laws.
The ticket sales and distribution company said it would be strictly up to venues to determine and enforce a policy.
The economy is in a renewed slump as a resurgent virus intensifies hardships for businesses. Consumers have cut back on shopping, traveling, dining out and attending sports and entertainment events. Key measures of the economy — retail sales, applications for jobless aid, travel spending — have weakened.
U.S. retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 1.1% in November, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. It was the biggest drop in seven months, and a steeper decline than Wall Street analysts had expected.
Meanwhile, multiple new variants of the coronavirus are sounding alarm bells in several countries as vaccines roll out to health care workers and the most vulnerable.
A coronavirus variant in the United Kingdom has caused alarm because of the possibility that it might spread more easily. But even if that turns out to be true, experts say the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out will likely still work on the variant.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said data coming from Britain indicates the vaccines still will block the virus. But the U.S. also will do tests to be sure.
Fauci said the U.S. is at a critical phase of the pandemic, with the worst probably still ahead. He predicted the general population would begin getting immunized widely by late March or early April — beyond the front-line workers, older people and certain other segments of the public given priority for the vaccines.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.