The role of apps: COVID Passports and international travel in a post-pandemic world.



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Countries across Europe have been rolling out coronavirus contact and trace apps in a bid to halt the resurgence of new cases, however, positive stories are few and far between in Europe as widespread adoption has largely failed. Designed to help fight the spread of the novel coronavirus by automatically tracing the contacts of infected people, COVID-19 tracking applications have encountered a series of challenges since their launch, from privacy concerns to technical glitches.

Using Airnow Data’s platform we were able to collate the main European contact tracing initiatives and their varying degrees of adoption in five European countries: France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK throughout 2020.

Topping the table in both downloads and percentage share of downloads, according to Airnow Data, was Germany’s Corona-Warn-App with 6.6 million downloads and a 30.01% share. Next was Italy’s Immuni with over 5 million downloads and a 23.3% share. In third, France’s TousAntiCovid with 4 million downloads and an 18.3% share. In fourth Spain’s Radar COVID app racked up 3.6 million downloads and a 16.3% share. And lastly, England’s NHS COVID-19 app recorded just 2.7 million downloads and a 12.1% share.

As the world starts to open up to international travel again, experts are suggesting that “vaccine

Passports” could be required, potentially for years.

Johanna Bonhill-Smith, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, said: “It now seems likely that some form of digital passport will be required to travel safely post-pandemic. There is a lucrative opportunity and a growing need for a travel app that can encompass all elements of a trip into a one-stop solution, with omnichannel connectivity that covers everything from simplifying travel requirements to transactions. Anything that can help elevate the customer experience and inspire travel confidence should now be a key priority.”

Of course, in this digital age, the most likely way for international travellers to demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination and testing status will be through these smartphone apps. With this in mind, it seems as though despite the initial broad failure of adoption of these apps, they will continue to grow in the coming months and years as a prerequisite to travel.