As if 2020 wasn’t the most “Big Brother” year in history, public health officials are now openly discussing the implementation of a “public health passport” system which will force people to prove their vaccination history.
The WHO strongly backs the practice, saying. “”Having trustworthy and reliable proof of vaccination for COVID-19 vaccine will be essential for public health purposes, such as studies on vaccine effectiveness, vaccine impact, coverage monitoring and monitoring of adverse events following immunization.” They continue “Proof of vaccination can be important also at individual level and for sectors other than health, when vaccination status is linked to existing national legal frameworks (for example where vaccination is a school entry requirement, mandatory vaccination for certain categories, etc)”
Countries like Canada and Israel are already issuing forms of clearance, and it is likely there will be wide global adoption to this practice.
At the moment there are already two existing COVID-19 passport options in the United States:
“Common pass”, which was created by an entity called the “Common Project” is the first. It is already in international use and generates a scannable QR code within a smartphone app that shares your personal health data. Another possibility is the IATA Travel Pass. It is being developed by the International Transport Association. IATA describes it as “a global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements”.
Agencies like Ticketmaster are also looking into adopting some form of verification and if successful, will likely lead to restaurants, retailers and other entities doing the same, such is their desperation to resume unfettered business activities. It remains unclear how they will escape liability for any outbreaks that occur in their “safe spaces”.
Interestingly, The Lancet argues against it. Their view is that, given the lack of evidence that people who have antibodies will be immune from recurrent infections, the decision to relax social distancing/mask policies isn’t recommended. Additionally, they reason that “Immunity passports would impose an artificial restriction on who can and cannot participate in social, civic, and economic activities and might create a perverse incentive for individuals to seek out infection”, and “privileges administered by a government, immunity passports would be ripe for both corruption and implicit bias.” Hardly an endorsement.
An additional consideration is the protection of mass access to HIPPA data by entities that do not bind themselves to the same standards as the medical industry. The idea that you go to a concert, and a few days later start seeing pop up ads for blood pressure medication when you surf the internet is too real to ignore, as is the financial incentive for these entities to sell your information.
It is interesting to note that, as of this moment, there are 16.5 million COVID 19 diagnoses in the United States. For perspective, there were 60.8 million H1N1 cases (with a fraction of the total tests) and there were no shutdowns that resulted from that crisis. It is also being reported that the virus is mutating and the vaccine might not be able to protect against the various new forms that are manifest.
As unpleasant as COVID-19 has been to deal with, it is imperative that Americans consider the long term ramifications of agreeing to any form of global registration. The irony of not needing a valid identification to vote, but needing proof of your detailed health records to go to a store and buy eggs, shouldn’t be missed.