Ever since the announcement came that vaccines would be rolled out to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the question has been on everyone’s mind: What comes next? As we emerge into a world that has been forever altered by the past year, it’s time to start looking at ways to reintegrate a post-COVID mindset. This means making it safe for people to gather socially and travel again. With vaccines our primary tool on the journey back to normalcy, some questions still remain. How will we know who’s vaccinated for real? Once I’m vaccinated, how can I prove it so that I can travel freely? And what does traveling freely once vaccinated actually mean—is it back to no holds barred or are we still living under restrictions? Some biotech companies—REVIV and CLEAR—have stepped forward to offer answers to those questions.
REVIV Launches HELIIX
One of the companies on the forefront of the tech looking to help people get safely back into public spaces is REVIV—a biotech company that has mainly focused on direct-to-patient services like genetic testing, lab work, hydration IVs and vaccinations that don’t require a doctor’s referral.
Now, the company is launching HELIIX—a health passport app that will allow people to log their vaccinations and negative tests, and use the software to pass through, “vaccinated only,” portals like those required for international travel and entertainment events.
In a statement, HELIIX is explained: “REVIV Global today announced the U.S. launch of HELIIX Health Passport in Las Vegas to help restore normal and safe operations to the hospitality, convention, sports and live event industry. The world’s first 360 Covid-19 testing and digital passport technology solution, the HELIIX Health Passport, uses VCode® technology to quickly, efficiently and securely demonstrate proof of a negative COVID-19 test result prior to entering an event.
Similar to a QR code, but developed through advanced technology to secure data, the app uses unique VCodes for each user to ensure accurate data is shared. The VCode is compatible with scanning technology that is being used at events that may require either a vaccination passport or recent negative test for entry. Currently, many people are unwilling or unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, and the HELIIX Health Passport can help bridge that gap.
‘I am thrilled to announce the launch of HELIIX Health Passport as I am committed to bringing Las Vegas back,’ says Sarah Lomas, president and CEO of REVIV Global. ‘I have been a business owner here for nearly 10 years and I want to help the city thrive once again.’
REVIV is the only company in the world offering a full 360 service from testing to technology. The IV therapy company, which is staffed by medical professionals, offers on-site mass testing services and individual testing at each of REVIV’s three Las Vegas clinics, located in the MGM Grand, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino. Additionally, the HELIIX Health Passport can be used with any secure form of COVID-19 testing.
Here’s how the HELIIX Health Passport works:
- Users download the HELIIX Health Passport app to their mobile device from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
- Prior to attending an event, restaurant, nightclub, or other public gathering, they take a rapid COVID-19 test. REVIV offers three convenient Las Vegas testing clinics. Additionally, the HELIIX Health Passport accepts all COVID testing that do not use unsecure bar codes and QR code technology.
- Test results are uploaded to their HELIIX Health Passport and made available on their personal mobile devices through secure technology called VCode®.
- The results are date stamped and when they arrive at their chosen venue their secure VCode® will be scanned in by staff to validate their identity and authenticate their negative COVID-19 test results within a given timeframe.”
Although the market currently is focused on Vegas, it’s likely HELIIX or a similar program will soon be available nationwide – as people across the country are chomping at the bit to get back to life as we knew it.
CLEAR Clears a Path Forward
Alongside HELIIX, biotech company CLEAR is looking to provide post-COVID solutions. CLEAR provides biometrically-linked encryption codes to verify your identity at more than 50 airports across the country. Now, they’re branching their tech out.
Although the vaccination proof software is not ready for use yet, soon users will be able to upload and verify their COVID-related information—such as vaccination status and positive or negative test results—and scan them directly into terminals at one of their partner airports around the country. Like HELIIX, CLEAR will offer people a quick, concise, easy way to pass through portals designed to screen out potential health risks as the pandemic wears on.
One of the most important steps in returning to life pre-2020 is the ability to track risks and minimize the worst risks. Technology solutions are the perfect way to do so. From the futuristic mRNA vaccines to the software developers looking to signal boost people’s COVID status, our world is poised to take the next big step forward.
So What Does the CDC Recommend for Vaccinated Individuals?
Although biotech is ready to help us broadcast our health status and help event organizers sift through acceptable risks, there are still looming questions for those seeking vaccinations.
What does it really mean to be fully vaccinated—can you tear off your mask and go gallivanting through the streets? Can you hop from country to country with reckless abandon and embrace strangers? Not so fast. Being vaccinated means you’re at significantly diminished risk of dying if you catch the virus—but it doesn’t mean it’s a carte blanche to do all the things we all miss so much from 2019. There are some stipulations, although fewer by the month as more people become vaccinated and vulnerable populations gain protection.
Million Mile Secrets provides a comprehensive and helpful look at what it means for travel and the way life can look after you’ve received both of your Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or your single Johnson & Johnson dose. Per Million Mile Secrets‘ Kaeli Conforti on whether or not it’s safe to travel, “It’s actually pretty complicated. For starters, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently advises Americans to ‘delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.’ If you must travel, the CDC says to wait at least two weeks beyond the date of your last vaccination before doing so, or if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, to get tested one to three days before your trip, wash your hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer, wear a mask when you’re in public, and practice social distancing.
Even so, the scientific community seems optimistic now that the production of the double-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is in full swing.
‘The real risk with COVID-19 is serious illness and the vaccines are highly effective at reducing serious illness with the virus,’ said Dr. Chris Beyrer, an epidemiology professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. ‘We are very encouraged that we now have three vaccines and that the J & J [Johnson & Johnson] product is single-dose.’
That doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet. Dr. Scott Weisenberg, director of travel medicine at NYU Langone Health, says that while vaccines make travel safer in general, the risk of disease is not completely removed even if you are vaccinated.
‘The risk to the traveler would depend on how much disease there is at the destination area, what they will be doing—particularly indoor activities in poorly ventilated areas—the consequences of infection (higher risk with older travelers and those with comorbidities), and the availability of healthcare at the destination if the traveler got COVID-19 while there,’ said Weisenberg. ‘Travelers should consider seeing a travel medicine specialist to review strategies to reduce risk during travel, particularly to resource-poor destinations.’”
And even though the vaccinated can be fairly confident that their risk of serious illness or death is greatly reduced, they still may carry the virus to someone vulnerable, so the least travel possible is still—for now—the best policy. However, on April 2 the CDC provided an update to their guidelines that may make some jetsetters very optimistic:
“Updated Information for Travelers:
- Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19.
- People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States.
- Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it.
- Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to self-quarantine.
- Fully vaccinated travelers should still follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely including:
-Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
-Stay 6 feet from others and avoid crowds
-Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.”
Million Mile Secrets shares this wisdom from the nation’s leading expert on COVID-19; “During a recent CNN Coronavirus Town Hall event, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had some sobering words for would-be travelers expecting a maskless future.
‘Getting vaccinated does not say you have a free pass to travel, nor does it say you have a free pass to put aside all of the public health measures we talk about all the time,’ said Fauci.
After explaining how immunity is at its strongest 10–14 days following the last vaccine dose, Fauci said masks should still be worn by vaccinated individuals until more studies can be conducted regarding transmission.
‘We are waiting for better data to show how vaccination will affect transmission, but early data would suggest reduced risk of infecting others, but there would still be some risk. The question will be how much that risk goes down,’ said Weisenberg in agreement. ‘Until we have better information on transmission, travelers should wear masks and practice social distancing when around others (particularly in indoor settings).’”
So What’s the Verdict?
Unfortunately, despite enormous leaps in research and understanding of both the virus and mRNA vaccines, there are still some answers that will only come with time. That means keeping an eye on CDC guidelines to make sure we’re being as safe as possible for everyone.
However with biotech companies striving to provide solutions for communications problems, and the CDC learning more every day about what boundaries are safe to push when fully vaccinated, there is a bright light on the horizon. Places like Las Vegas are starting to come to life again, and now this drive forward into the future from organizations like the CDC and determined biotech companies like CLEAR and REVIV means that we may feel the sun on our face again soon. But for now, the message is clear: mask up, keep your distance, keep your vaccination status close to hand, and keep a weather eye on the guideline horizon.