A vaccine passport acts as proof of immunization or the absence of infection. The infection in our current scenario being the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It’s a vital document that’s equivalent to one’s boarding pass or driver’s license.
The document will exempt travellers who have acquired both doses of the vaccine from testing and/or quarantine. Additionally, vaccine passports are available as both physical and digital certificates. The objective is to keep those who haven’t been vaccinated from coming into touch with healthy people. Thus it may become necessary for people who desire to travel abroad in such a scenario.
Conceptually, it is comparable to the WHO’s “medical passport”. Which acted as proof against diseases such as cholera and yellow fever. Ultimately, a vaccine passport’s primary purpose is to make international and domestic travel a bit easier.
While a system like this has existed for quite some time. The idea of enacting such mandatory legislation has outraged many people, and here’s why:
WHO Advises Against its Use
Some nations are contemplating or demanding such documents for international travel. However, a (WHO) panel on 2nd July 2021 has concluded that covid-19 “vaccine passports” should not be a mandatory requirement for entry or exit.
An interim position paper on the matter details out scientific, ethical, legal and technical concerns about the probable inclusion of such a document. Primarily, the effectiveness of vaccination in decreasing transmission remains a key uncertainty. Furthermore, giving travellers preferential treatment may reduce the overall vaccination supply. This might lead to a shortage of supplies for priority groups of the populous who are more likely to develop a severe strain of COVID-19.
Later, the updated report titled ‘Technical considerations for implementing a risk-based approach to international travel in the context of COVID-19″ stated a conclusion on the matter, given the limited (albeit rising) data on vaccines’ effectiveness in preventing transmission and persistent disparities in global vaccine availability, hence, on the matter of vaccine passports, national authorities and conveyance operators should not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry or exit.
The Conversation reported that “Richer” nations have ordered virtually all of the vaccinations that are currently accessible. This indicates that someone living in a high-income nation has a far higher chance of receiving the vaccine. Since those who receive vaccinations have the capacity to travel, individuals from high-income nations will automatically have access to additional opportunities. Individuals from low-income nations, on the other hand, face the double burden of not obtaining vaccines and being placed under lockdown for a lengthy period of time.
When the world’s economies eventually reopen, disadvantaged/marginalized groups may find it more difficult to return to pre-pandemic levels of prosperity. Those with vaccination passports, on the other hand, are free to go about their business. As a result, such documentation has the potential to further increase the gap between the global rich and the poor.