Vaccine Passports Are Still an Awful Idea – Novara Media

21 November 2021
Vaccine Passports
Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash

By James Meadway


Economist and Novara Media columnist James Meadway looks at the controversial idea of vaccine passports.

Meadway argues that if they are implemented we can “say goodbye to the 1% of your life still free from surveillance.”

With Boris Johnson warning of “storm clouds” of coronavirus infections gathering over parts of Europe, putting the UK at risk of a spike in cases, the government introducing vaccine passports in England is still a very real possibility. Health secretary Sajid Javid could trigger the measure – which would see passports made a legal requirement for places like nightclubs, outdoor festivals and football matches – at just a week’s notice –  a decision that would have major implications for our privacy and freedom.

In Scotland, which already implements vaccine certification for nightclubs and large events, the national government is considering extending the existing scheme to bars and pubs. 

assuming certification can be implemented and administered, we would have introduced a huge new surveillance technology into society. For companies that profit from data-gathering, the data they collect is a goldmine.

James Meadway

Those pushing vaccine passports, like the Tony Blair Institute, claim it is a fast-track route back to pre-covid “normality”. In reality, however, the schemes are likely to do little to suppress outbreaks, and will instead only encourage discrimination and the extension of mass surveillance. 

The government knows passports won’t work.

Crucially, vaccine certification is not a guarantee that coronavirus has been banished from any place where it is being used. Vaccines themselves are an essential tool in pushing back against the virus, but no vaccine is completely effective – and their effectiveness wanes over time. This means that even if every person in a venue or at an event has been vaccinated, it is not possible to guarantee that it is safe. The Boardmasters Festival, which took place in Cornwall in August, is a perfect example of this. Despite the festival implementing vaccine passports – with additional testing – it still became a ‘superspreader’ event, with 4,700 people reporting an infection as a result of attending.

Read James Meadway’s opinion piece on the Novara Media website

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