We know by now that COVID-19 testing will play a role in restarting domestic international travel. Though some organisations like the WHO have stated that COVID-19 vaccine should not be used for International travel due to various ethical reasons. At a press conference in March this year, Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, had said that there are &ldquoreal practical and ethical considerations" for countries considering using vaccine certification as a condition for travel. He added that the UN health agency advises against it for now as mandating vaccine passports would be an inequitable and unjustified decision for those who cannot be vaccinated for various reasons.
Meanwhile, IATA launched its much-anticipated travel pass in March, formally announcing its arrival at the Heathrow Airport. The pass, in the form of a mobile application, was successfully trialled as a hands-on manager for travellers' health details recorded on a universal database.
Meanwhile in India, several travel industry players have been helping people navigate the tricky territory of tests and vaccines, for instance we have had airlines tying up with labs to get pre-flight tests for passengers.
Now we hear that travel booking app Ixigo has launched a new feature, the &lsquovaccine slot finder&rsquo, which displays real-time slots available from the CoWin website.
It is quite easy to access - just tap on &ldquoFind Vaccine Slot&rdquo in the What&rsquos New section, fill all your details (like pincode or district, age group, dose and vaccine type.
It shows the most updated data from CoWin and redirects you to book your appointment.
The rather helpful feature, &lsquoNotify Me&rsquo, gives an immediate notification as slots are made available.
The Director of Ixigo, Rajnish Kumar, said that with this initiative, they want to support the government's efforts in accelerating mass vaccinations by providing users seamless access to vaccine slots. &ldquoTimely vaccinations will help ease anxiety and encourage safe and free movement of people going forward,&rdquo he said.
Other digital travel players like Make My Trip are also seeking approval from the government for providing a vaccine finder tool.
OYO Rooms has started showing the vaccination status of its staff of partner hotels on its app. Founder Ritesh Agrawal said in a tweet &ldquoVaccination is the most important intervention against COVID-19. We are launching an industry-first feature, VaccinAid, to show self-reported vaccination status of hotel staff across OYOs&rdquo.
Many Indian airlines have also come forward to help. SpiceJet, Go Air, Indigo, Air Asia are some who have started providing testing facilities to their passengers - samples can be collected from your doorstep or you can go to the nearest affiliated testing centre.