The Vaccine Passport - news and views

Well, yes. That’s obviously the entire point.

Infringing the rights of those who have not had the opportunity for vaccination might be a more valid point.

Sure, but there is a strong a priori expectation that any vaccine with efficacy against disease will also reduce transmission; and for some of the vaccines we do now have good data confirming this expectation.

You seem determined to make the perfect the enemy of the good in all your arguments here. No measure to reduce spread is absolute. You might as well say masks are pointless because they only reduce the probability of spread.

Well, I am looking forward to seeing the evidence that the vaccine is reducing the spread of the virus and its variants. But that is not straighforward because the another factor is also reducing the spread of the virus, and that is the various national and local lockdown policies put in place. Separating the influence of the two factors is a problem. Was it the vaccine protecting you or the fact that you haven’t left your home, except under very controlled conditions,for months? Human challenge trials that may be able to provide a conclusive answer to some of these questions rather than trying to draw conclusions from national statistics.

Make no mistake I want this to work, but passports for international travel are in the control of governments who have to create a policy and reassure the public that they have the pandemic under control. Most of the time they hide behind the claim that they are following the ‘best scientific advice’. International travel spread this virus very quickly and it could do so again. Countries differ in the progress of their vaccination rollouts, lockdown rules and mass testing capabilities.

At the moment the UK is considering opening up travel in the summer and the some popular holiday destination such as Greece and Cyprus are keen to recognise some kind evidence of vaccination to allow tourists to visit. The numbers involved will be large and vaccination and testing will not catch everyone who is infectious. There will be outbreaks and this will require a policy on local lockdowns.

We have already seen this sort of thing in New Zealand and recently in the UK, there was a panic over an outbreak of the Brazilian variant. Test and trace procedures have been found to be inadequate in the UK.

So there is a risk of an outbreak if travelers return to an area where there are still significant numbers of the unvaccinated people. If that happens the confidence in any passport system could break down very quickly.

I guess it could be mitigated by repeated testing routine. This has just started in UK as children have returned to school. Home testing kits are being given to parents to do twice weekly tests. So something similar for returning holidaymakers starting on arrival at the airport? That will be a challenge for the airports to do at scale.

There is no magic bullet.

But the right combination of procedures and policies can make Covid infection manageable. This has been a struggle for most countries and with passports they will be obliged to put their faith that another country is similarly prepared.

The UK is making good progress with its testing and vaccination rollout. But opening the usual flood of holidaymakers to travel to the Mediterranean countries this summer will be a calculated risk.

The politicians are understandably nervous about it and will report on 12th April with a plan that will probably allow travel from mid-May. Whether it will require any kind of vaccine passport, they do not say. At the moment percentage first dose vaccinated in the UK is 33% and the projection is that all adults will be vaccinated by 12th May. But most of the EU countries are at just 10% and the, rollouts are at a much slower pace. Tourism and travel are big parts of the economy of many countries and those businesses are anxious to save the summer tourist season and goodness knows everyone wants a holiday in the sun.

There is so much politics in these decisions and much cherry picking of the ‘best scientific advice’.

I actually did an online survey a month or so back, on this very topic. It asked questions like “would you support the ability for a restaurant etc. to be open, without restrictions, as long as everyone had proof of vaccination”. I don’t believe it addressed something official to use for travel.

My response was “no” to pretty much all such questions. Too many ways for it to be abused, it puts the burden on businesses to enforce it, the paperwork could be forged, etc.

As far as using it for travel purposes: how would that work? Would the government have to gear up to provide a whole different official, hard-to-counterfeit document? How would it need to be handled in the case of the spread of a new variant that was not reduced by the vaccines in place? How long would such a passport be valid for?

Exactly. In the hopefully most likely projected scenario, all of these restrictions can be dismantled by the end of this year, in six months’ time.

The time it would take to construct, roll out, and then to teach about and to monitor the enforcement of “vaccination passport restriction regulations” would be about the same time, PLUS it’d be easy to defeat.

The whole goal of the end game is not “let’s get as many people back to normal functioning as soon as possible on a weekly/monthly basis” but to get EVERYBODY back to normal functioning as soon as possible.

The all-clear will be sounded when serious illness rates fall and stay below a specific and manageable threshold for a sustained period of time, and are shown not to rise again when restrictions are generally relaxed.

What that threshold is I actually don’t know. But it’s not a case of “if we hit 200M vaccinations in the USA we can stop with the restrictions” or whatever number. That’s likely to lead to the all-clear being sounded, but it is not the benchmark.

Now, it should be safe for small gatherings of all-vaccinated people to occur, sure. Like in one’s own home. But that’s different from having a retail business or restaurant be put in the position of checking and monitoring the vaccination status of everybody entering.

I think all the logic like this presumes that we don’t have large numbers of people who refuse the vaccine, and that we won’t run into the situation again if/when the protection fades and people have to get a vaccine again.

In that scenario, there would an argument that being able to tell if someone has been vaccinated (or is otherwise not carrying the disease) would be needed long term, not just short term. Even if this would only be true in some higher risk situations, that would be enough to justify getting this up and going.

Plus there’s the next pandemic, which is guaranteed to happen again. Having a system in place would be useful in that context. Heck, we could even start screening for anti-vaxxers who have ignored other requires vaccines and led to once defeated diseases resurfacing.

As for how easy it would be to defeat: Others have also pointed out that it could be set up in a way where it would be backed up digitally.

I for one will never feel safe around those who not only refused masks but then also the vaccine. There is no 100% return to “normal” after finding out how many people won’t do the smallest of things to prevent others from dying.

Well I got vaccinated today (UK) and all I got was a little appointment card that says which vaccine, a batch number and the date. And a space to record the details of the second jab.

Whether this enough vaccine information to allow international travel to somewhere warm and sunny, that is another matter.

I really don’t think it is practical for any government to retroactively issue some kind of secure passport stamp. It will probably be done on country by country basis. When they officially announce that most adults have been vaccinated and the virus is not running wild, then I expect other countries will take that as being low enough risk to allow in the tourists.

Some popular tourist countries seem to be quite anxious to open their doors quickly. Greece will be opening its doors on 14th May. Something to do with tourism being such a big earner for the economy. They are looking for 15millon visitors this year, half the usual number. Some kind of digital pass? I think it will be just down to which passport you are carrying and the status of the vaccination rollout in that country. I really don’t think there will be an EU-wide vaccine passport ready before the end of the holiday season.

The UK vaccine rollout does not seem to have been designed to ID everyone who is vaccinated. It is very simple, the website asks your age and your name and then gives an appointment date and time. I went for a jab today and they found me on the system, but I don’t think it would have been an issue if they had not. It is a mass vaccination program, to reach the necessary percentage of the population to prevent the spread of virus. It was all done within a few minutes of arriving. It is a numbers game and I don’t think peoples holiday plans are a factor in this. Though I would rather have liked a T-shirt or some momento of participating in this national project rather than a little appointment card. :wink:

I don’t know if I need to clarify the word “staycation” in this story, but just in case: stay at home (ie, in the UK) vacation. And BTW, horrible word, isn’t it?

So that’s a vaccine passport, but not in the international travel sense - these are cruises that don’t leave the country. This is the UK’s largest cruise company and, as the story reports, you’ll only be allowed on board if you provide proof of (complete) vaccination. Right now you can only do that with a vaccination card; if I was a gambling man I would say less than three months until a secure digital passport is up and working - which fits in with the scheduled cruise dates in this story.

Failure to provide proof of the jabs, which guests must have had at least seven days in advance, “will result in denial of boarding”, the company added.

The move comes after Saga Cruises and Virgin Voyages in the US made similar announcements.

The firm said this is a decision that is a “strong expressed preference on the part of our guests.”

My bold, for the purpose of asking a question - does anyone know if Virgin Voyages is pitched at US customers, or UK customers who want a US cruise? This kind of implies the former, if only because the story is in a US paper:

Also, the Virgin Voyages website offers, on it’s front page “endless views of watercolor sunsets…” - US spelling of color. So it looks to me as if this is a requirement aimed at US passengers.

Thoughts?

j

The only issue I have with vaccine passports is: How will they be created and enforced?

There seems to be a presumption of a bureaucracy that keeps track of everyone that’s been vaccinated. But it’s easy for someone to fall through the cracks of any bureaucracy. Say someone gets vaccinated, but for some reason it doesn’t get recorded in a government database. He can never get on a plane?

How is that different from any government ID?

Government IDs usually require, at bottom level, a birth certificate. If you’ve lost it you can always get a new one from the state government.

By contrast, if nobody records your vaccination, either deliberately or by mistake, then there’s no record that exists anywhere to prove you’ve had it.

What if, deliberately or by mistake, your birth wasn’t recorded?

Your vaccination will probably be recorded in a few ways. If it doesn’t make it to the state database or whatever, I’m sure there will some way to track it down.

@FigNorton , @suranyi

I was curious because this is, I think, the first example I have come across which (it seems) would require US citizens to provide proof of vaccination (a vaccine passport, in effect) for a commercial service. I have the strong impression (partly from these boards) that Europe is further along that route than the US - I think it’s inevitable and fairly widely accepted in Europe, much more than it is (and maybe ever will be) in the US. That’s what grabbed my attention about Virgin Voyages.

You can’t get much information out of their website without providing your email; but I found a wiki page which locates their operation in Florida and this ad, which has cruise item prices in dollars; so it looks like they are pitching to US citizens (rather just than flying people transatlantic and then sticking them on a ship).

Has this (or anything similar) been reported in the US? If so, what has the reaction been?

j

The covidiots and maskholes have already printed a spread a fake “I cant wear a mask due to some medical reason” ID, so this Vaccine “passport” is next I imagine.

I really haven’t seen any talk at all about a vaccine passport besides internet people. It makes sense for a private cruise company to start doing that, given the demographics and nature of their industry. I’m pretty confident a government sanctioned vaccine passport for Americans traveling in America is a complete non-starter.

That’s kinda the impression I had.

j

Latest from the UK:

The government review of vaccine certification could report in May to coincide with the wider reopening of hospitality in England, according to a senior government source.

The review is looking at how people’s vaccination and testing status could be stored securely and displayed on a mobile phone, and the circumstances under which such a system could apply.

The idea of asking pub goers to show a vaccine certificate was raised at Wednesday’s House of Commons Liaison Committee hearing, when Conservative William Wragg asked Mr Johnson if vaccine certificates were “compatible with a free society such as ours”.

Here we go with freedom again. Elsewhere in the article a conservative MP describes the passport as “a ghastly trap”. The curious thing is that making foreign travel (for holidays) illegal barely caused a ripple. But a vaccine passport to go to the pub - unthinkable!

j

Would you be comfortable with requiring passports for grocery stores?

Fair question. It hasn’t been a subject for discussion over here, probably because you don’t sit down in a fixed location is relation to other people, and other groups of people, for several hours, whilst not wearing a mask, in a grocery store.

That said, if (god forbid) we have another of those huge surges, yes I absolutely would.

Here’s a later story

Seems to be a fast moving area at the moment. There is too much here, and it’s too nuanced, for me to give a fair summary by quoting under fair use - you really need to read the full (short) article. But here’s a snippet:

A government review into the possible use of coronavirus passports or status certificates to allow people to visit pubs and other venues is taking place under the plans to ease England’s lockdown.

Mr Johnson said previous coronavirus infections could be a feature used if they are adopted.

“There are three basic components. There’s the vaccine, there’s your immunity you might have had after you’ve had Covid, and there’s testing - they are three things that could work together.”

My bold - it’s not just about vaccination.

j

Ok, well here’s the problem: I know the average Joe doesn’t give a crap about the ethics of coercion to accept a medical procedure but it’s not one the medical community is going to be very comfortable with.

People not being able to buy food without a vaccine passport is crossing a big bold line. Someone living in a shitty flat with a hotplate for a kitchen may get much of his food at dine out places too.

If we are going to starve them into submission, why not just arrest people and forcibly vaccinate them?