According to a report from the Daily Express, a number of companies have been given the go-ahead to produce COVID-19 passports, despite widespread concerns over discrimination.
The report indicates that once inoculated, citizens will be able to apply for a COVID-19 passport which in turn will enable them to travel overseas. However, many feel that this would discriminate against those who have not yet received the vaccine.
Despite these concerns, a number of high profile figures have stated their support for the plans, including ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, and current Prime Minister of Greece Kyriagos Mitsotakis.
The plans are touted as the most sensible way of enabling those who have been inoculated with the COVID-19 jab to leave the country.
Nadhim Zahawi, Conservative MP and Vaccine Minister, has categorically stated that vaccine passports are not in the government’s plans. Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, the minister said:
“The vaccine passports would be discriminatory. That’s not how we do things. We do them by consent.”
Instead of the government financing the development of COVID-19 passports, Zahawi has suggested that people visit their GP as a means of verifying their immunity for travel reasons. As the UK emerges from the pandemic era, this is thought to be the fairest way of facilitating overseas travel.
But despite the sizable opposition to the idea, at least two ventures have been launched to create COVID-19 passports, both of which are taxpayer-funded.
One of the companies involved, Logifect, has reportedly been given £62,000 to create a phone application designed to demonstrate a person’s immunity to the disease.
The report states that two additional firms, iProov and Mvine, have both received a £75,000 cash injection to begin a joint project which is similar to that currently being worked on by Logifect. Despite publicly expressing concerns about the rollout of vaccine passports, it is thought that the government now has a ‘nuanced position’ on the idea.
UK Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband has indicated that he is open to the notion of a vaccine document, but has asserted that the government should first focus on developing an effective quarantine system.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Miliband said:
“We still don’t have a plan for a comprehensive quarantine system, so let’s proceed a step at a time, and of course, look at the vaccine passport – but let’s get the quarantine right and let’s get the rollout right too.”
UK not alone
There are other nations besides the UK that are mulling over the notion of COVID-19 passports. However, several nations have made it clear that they will not be pursuing them due to the risk of discrimination, as vaccines have not yet been offered to all sections of society.
The current list of nations asking for or administering vaccine passports is as follows:
- Czech Republic
In 2020, the World Health Organisation stated that it was assessing the idea of an internationally-accepted electronic vaccine certificate. In the December of that year, Dr Siddhartha Datta, Europe’s WHO programme manager for vaccine-preventable diseases, said:
“We are looking very closely into the use of technology in this COVID-19 response, one of them how we can work with member states toward an e-vaccination certificate.”
If the UK decides to proceed with the rollout of vaccine passports, obtaining one will come at a cost of £30.
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Proponents of vaccine passports argue that they are the most logical way of facilitating international travel. [Image: Unsplash]
Those who oppose vaccine passports argue that they will lead to discrimination, with those who have been vaccinated given a greater number of freedoms than those who have not. [Image: Unsplash]
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