By James Meadway
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.
“Storm clouds… are gathering over parts of the continent”— Bloomberg UK (@BloombergUK) November 15, 2021
Boris Johnson says the U.K. is extending the rollout of Covid-19 booster shots as Europe faces a new wave of cases, with Britain also seeing a rise in infectionshttps://t.co/Br7gufhAe2 pic.twitter.com/FVogpp3gTu
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.
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.