Overseas holidays and global travel could just be around the corner

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Issue 38: 27 October 2020
Every week, HEADlines brings you the latest news, stories and commentaries
in education and healthcare. This week, get insights on the latest developments
in healthcare
Digital health passports - Your ticket to the world? 

When will overseas holidays and global travel resume? This question, weighing on many people's minds, may soon have an answer if cross-border COVID-19 spread can be resolved. Existing protective measures at the borders will have to change even as governments create travel bubbles in a bid to restart international travel. To achieve this, two key questions need to be addressed: 

Firstly, can there be an alternative to the 14-day quarantine required by border authorities worldwide? The answer lies in extensive pre-departure testing. And not just any test, but a test that is fast, cheap, accurate and scalable for mass travel to be possible. In Singapore for instance, a start-up company is developing a breathalyser test that can diagnose COVID-19 in under a minute

Secondly, there needs to be a secure and globally accepted digital health passport for border authorities to ascertain an incoming traveller's health status. While many companies have tried to develop this, CommonPass, backed by the World Economic Forum (WEF), has gained the most traction and is currently being trialed in transatlantic flights from the UK to the US.

If successful, CommonPass could become the global standard for restarting international travel as it expands its reach to other airlines and travel routes. Critics on the other hand are quick to point out some ethical issues around data privacy and discrimination. Nevertheless, these developments present a hope for many, and we could just be at the brink of being able to travel 'freely' again. 
Healthcare in the Spotlight
Given that the majority of participants in trials exhibit few or no symptoms, it will be difficult to ascertain if COVID-19 vaccines actually benefit high risk groups like the elderly from serious complications.
Doctors are studying an unexpected coronavirus complication that can appear a few weeks or even months after the initial COVID-19 infection.

Photo credits: Stevepb on Pixabay
There is not enough evidence from randomised controlled trials to establish traditional remedies’ effectiveness in treating the coronavirus, experts say.
The mixture of Western and Eastern elements of healthcare products and services is having a draw on younger Chinese consumers who are more willing to invest in their health.
Taking a dip in cold water could help defend the brain against dementia and other degenerative diseases, research suggests.
The European Commission has launched five flagship "missions" to develop strategies to adapt to the worst effects of a warming world.

That's all for the week!
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