COVID Vaccine Passports-Pro & Con

The Economist March 13th, 2021 pp75-77 |Science & Technology|”Easing the lockdowns” “Back to normality?” “Vaccine passports offer a beguiling route back to freedom. But governments should beware their pitfalls.”



Lloyd Miller newyorktimes.com



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Summary of the Article

As a map of the world, presented in the article, shows some countries have barely vaccinated their citizens while others like Israel, America, Chile, Britain, China, Russia, Greece and Australia among others have made significant inroads in getting COVID vaccines into arms. So having vaccine passports in hand could help those that have vaccine to travel the world but likely will restrict those from countries that lag in vaccination or are slow to adopt vaccine passports. Other pitfalls that are cited include inequity of vaccine penetration within any locale. With few exceptions older citizens were first to get vaccinations while younger and or non-white or economically challenged groups are slowly getting access. Another big concern is the potential for explicit misuse of vaccine passports. With such an identification platform there is the potential for governments to readily connect other information to this basic record regarding COVID-19 vaccine status. Uses for policing come to mind and beyond that sensitive information could be used for corporate purposes such as the recruiting of job candidates and the retention of employees. From a medical science and public health perspective there are worries about whether vaccine passports for COVID-19 can currently be accurate and therefore effective. Do the various vaccines protect against asymptomatic transmission and do they or will they protect against variant forms of COVID-19 that are actively emerging.


The historical precendent for vaccine passports comes, as an example, from historical and current practices in America. Visitors to America coming from “places where yellow fever is endemic [must]…prove vaccination with a ‘yellow card’. Also, immigrants to America must be vaccinated for 15 disease listed by that country’s Department of Health before they can become permanent residents..." Similarly children in all 50 states must be vaccinated for a variety of transmissible diseases before attending public schools.


Businesses see the vaccine passport as a way to relaunch the tourism and hospitality industry. It is noted that in some ways a COVID negative PCR test result has been used now for a while to allow entrance, as examples, to Hawaii and to food and entertainment establishments in Israel. Opponents argue that passport checking will be cumbersome, or that they are not uniformly being checked and that the documents or APPs can be forged.