Health / Immunity Passports

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trader32176
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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California county to pilot digital vaccine passport program amid privacy, discrimination concerns

4/14/21


https://pandemic.news/2021-04-14-califo ... ports.html


California’s Orange County plans to launch a pilot program that will require residents to present digital passports to prove they have been vaccinated against or tested negative to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). The program will be rolled out sometime this month, the Orange County Health Care Agency announced on April 8.

“The Digital Passport enables individuals to participate safely and with peace of mind in activities that involve interactions with other people, including travel, attractions, conferences/meetings, concerts, sports, school and more,” the agency said.

Details about how the program will work are scant, but the county’s existing Othena scheduling app may be used to provide the credentials. Othena is used to schedule vaccine appointments at the county’s mass vaccination sites. Agency director Dr. Clayton Chau told the Orange Country Register that it can easily be modified to include a credentialing feature. She added that printed cards can be issued to people without smartphones.

Dr. Tomas Aragon, the director of the California Department of Public Health, says that there are currently no plans to introduce a statewide vaccine passport system. He also notes that the state will formulate standards and guidelines for the implementation of such programs if the federal authorities do not move fast enough.

“If they don’t move fast enough, we will come up with technical standards that will be expected – really focusing on making sure that privacy is protected and that equity is protected,” the health chief said last week.

His remarks come amid concerns that vaccine passports can potentially give rise to privacy breaches and discrimination.

Vaccine passports spark privacy, discrimination concerns


Albert Fox Cahn, an attorney and founder of privacy rights group Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, sounded the alarm about New York’s Excelsior Pass, an app designed by IBM to verify one’s vaccination and COVID-19 status.

“I have more detailed technical documentation about the privacy impact of nearly every app on my phone than I do for this health pass,” Cahn told Gothamist last month. “IBM and the governor are … not explaining the security [and] implementation. And on top of it, the pass itself is incredibly revealing, disclosing not only people’s health status and name but their date of birth.”

He also noted that the app’s terms of service did not expressly state that a user’s personal information was not be accessible to police departments or other government agencies. (Related: Vaccine Passports already a TOTAL FLOP in New York.)

Liberty, the largest civil liberties organization in the U.K., was concerned that vaccine passports would discriminate against those who were not vaccinated.

“Even the introduction of a voluntary passport to prove if you’ve had a vaccine could result in many being blocked from essential public services, work or housing,” the organization said in a statement. “This would result in a two-tier system in which some people can access freedoms and support while others are shut out.”

New York’s Excelsior Pass system, for instance, required people to prove that they were fully vaccinated or tested negative before they could enter certain events or locations.

The GOP takes action against vaccine passports

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, both Republicans, issued executive orders early this month forbidding the use of vaccine passports.

Abbott’s order barred state agencies and political subdivisions, as well as public and private groups funded by taxpayer money, from requiring people to prove that they were inoculated. It also superseded any conflicting local orders mandating such passes.

He said that while the state would continue to vaccinate more Texans, it would do so without impinging upon people’s freedom. He also noted that the U.S. constitution does not empower the federal government to mandate vaccine passports.

DeSantis’ order also banned government agencies and businesses in Florida from requiring and issuing certifications of one’s vaccination status. The governor previously called vaccine passports “completely unacceptable” and promised to take action against any proposals that would mandate them.

“It”s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society,” he said during a press conference late last month.

Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona also filed a bill that would prohibit federal agencies and state-owned institutions from requiring proof of vaccination. Called “No Vaccine Passport Act,” the bill would also ban the federal government from issuing vaccine passports to third parties, such as airlines and restaurants.
trader32176
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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Montana Senate advances bill banning vaccine requirements

4/22/21


https://apnews.com/article/health-gover ... 53a69378a2


HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Senate voted Thursday to advance a measure banning the use of vaccine passports and prohibiting workplaces from requiring vaccinations as a condition for employment.

Dozens of supporters of the measure, mostly unmasked, packed the Senate gallery. They erupted into cheers and applause when the Senate voted to advance the measure 30-19, largely along party lines with Republicans in favor.

The vote came after Benefis Health System, a health care provider in Great Falls, announced earlier this month it would require all its employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which has received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

A similar bill failed in the House earlier this year, only to be revived by Republican lawmakers who insist that rules requiring vaccines as a condition for employment or access to services pose a health risk and a threat to religious freedom and privacy.

“This bill is about us giving people a choice so that they don’t have to be terminated from their employment and so they can maintain their sincerely held personal religious beliefs,” said Sen. Tom McGillvray, the Republican who carried the bill on the Senate floor.

Opponents of the measure say the bill could negatively impact medically vulnerable residents of nursing homes and assisted care living facilities, where staff would no longer be required to receive vaccines widely believed to be safe, including the annual flu shot.

The bill comes a week after Montana’s Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte banned the use of vaccine passports in the state to prove COVID-19 vaccination status by executive order.

Vaccine passports are documents that can be used to verify coronavirus immunization status and allow inoculated people to more freely travel, shop and dine. The White House has said there will not be any federal vaccine passport program, leaving the development of such initiatives to private companies.

The Senate amended the bill Thursday to clarify that the change does not apply to vaccine requirement for public school students. According to existing law, students are required to receive certain vaccines but may opt out if their parents or guardians sign a religious or medical waiver.

The Senate must vote on the bill for a final time before it returns to the House for approval.
trader32176
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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Free stuff you can get by flashing your coronavirus vaccine card

4/24/21


https://www.bostonherald.com/2021/04/24 ... cine-card/


If you’ve recently been vaccinated against coronavirus, protection from the disease isn’t the only perk you can cash in on.

Many businesses are now offering freebies for getting the shot. Here’s a smattering of the offers:

Free Bluebikes rides to and from vaccination sites:

Looking to get some exercise to and from your vaccine appointment? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is sponsoring free Bluebikes rides through May in Arlington, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Newton, Revere, Somerville and Watertown, where the bikes are found on various street corners.

Riders download the Bluebikes app and use the code “BLUEVAX1” and “BLUEVAX2.” Each code will unlock one free “Adventure Pass,” which includes free unlimited two-hour rides for a 24-hour period.

In addition, complimentary bike valets will be available at Bluebikes stations nearest to two mass vaccination sites, the Hynes Convention Center and the Reggie Lewis Center beginning April 26.

Free Budweiser:

For people looking to celebrate their vaccine with a beer, Budweiser is covering the first round.

If you are at least 21 years old and upload proof of vaccination, which can be as simple as a selfie with a vaccination sticker, to ABeerOnBud.com. You’ll be rewarded with a $5 virtual debit card the company wants you to use on a Budweiser. This offer is available until May 16.

Free Krispy Kreme donut:

Krispy Kreme is offering a free glazed donut to anyone who can show their COVID-19 vaccination card. The offer is valid in store only and not online or via delivery. Unfortunately, the closest Krispy Kreme locations to Boston are in Connecticut.

Free Lyft ride to and from vaccine sites:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and Lyft are offering transportation to vaccination sites by using a Lyft pass that community health centers can give to patients and an inbound call center that has been set up to organize rides.

A $1 million contribution from Blue Cross in collaboration with Lyft is expected to fund thousands of free rides to vaccine appointments in underserved communities, including communities of color. More info can be found on the Lyft website.
trader32176
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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It’s Official: No Tourists to EU Without Vaccine Passport

4/26/21


https://blogs.mercola.com/sites/vitalvo ... sport.aspx


After more than a year of shutdown for the pandemic, all European Union countries will open to American tourists for summer 2021 — with one caveat: You’ll need a vaccine passport to get in.

EU president Ursula von der Leyen broke the news to The New York Times, saying, “All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by the EMA (European Medicines Agency).”

All three vaccines currently approved in the U.S., as well as the EMA’s AstraZeneca shot, will be accepted for the passport.
trader32176
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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Americans Will Officially Need A Vaccine Passport For Travel To Europe In 2021

4/25/21

https://amp.dailycaller.com/2021/04/25/ ... ssion=true


Americans will need a vaccine passport in order to travel to Europe this summer.

More than one year after the European Union shut down nonessential travel from most of the world, the bloc will reopen its borders to American tourists this summer. There’s one catch: those tourists will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told The New York Times.

American and European officials have reportedly been in talks on how to create a vaccine certificate to clear citizens for international travel. “All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A. (European Medicines Agency),” von der Leyen told the Times.

All three vaccines currently being used in the United States, from Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, have been approved by the EMA. European regulators have also authorized use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is awaiting approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Details on how exactly travelers will prove their vaccination status are still being worked out. A low-tech option may suffice in the short term until an official and internationally-recognized vaccine certificate is developed, according to The Times.

President Joe Biden’s administration has publicly stated the U.S. won’t have a government-issued vaccine passport for domestic activities, but a vaccine passport for international travel has been kicked around as a possibility for months. Numerous European countries, a well as others like Israel and China, have also proposed or developed domestic vaccine passes for activities like indoor dining at restaurants and attending sporting events.

Until now, only visitors from countries with exceptionally low COVID-19 levels, such as New Zealand, have been permitted to travel freely to Europe.
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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When It Comes to a Travel Restart All Vaccines Are Not Equal

4/25/21

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... d-the-west


With the resumption of global travel on the horizon, some people are discovering that their choice of vaccine could determine where they’re allowed to go.

Already, the European Union is planning to allow Americans vaccinated with shots approved by their drug agency to enter over the summer, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen suggested in a New York Times interview Sunday.

This means that those who have shots by Chinese makers like Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and Sinopharm Group Co. Ltd. are likely to be barred from entry for the foreseeable future, with stark consequences for global business activity and the revival of international tourism.

As inoculation efforts ramp up around the world, a patchwork of approvals across countries and regions is laying the groundwork for a global vaccine bifurcation, where the shot you get could determine which countries you can enter and work in.

For Chinese citizens who venture abroad regularly, and western nationals wanting to pursue business opportunities in the world’s second-largest economy, a dilemma is emerging about which shot to opt for. China so far recognizes only Chinese-made shots, and its vaccines are not approved in the U.S. or Western Europe.

Hong Kong citizen Marie Cheung travels to mainland China regularly for her work with an electric vehicle company, a routine that’s been interrupted by lengthy mandated quarantine stays since the pandemic began.

Of the two vaccine options available in the city -- one from Sinovac and another developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE -- Cheung plans to sign up for Sinovac for easier movement in and out of the mainland. Meanwhile, her British husband will go for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, she says to boost his chances of visiting family in the U.K.

“For people who need to work in or return to mainland, the Chinese vaccine is the only option for them,” Cheung said. “Westerners will only choose the vaccine recognized by their home country.”

For millions of people worldwide who can’t choose which vaccines they get, the risk of more places becoming selective about which shots they recognize, especially given the vaccines’ varying efficacy rates, creates the possibility that even fully inoculated, people’s travel could still be limited -- with consequences for international business activity and the tourism industry.

What’s the Best Covid Vaccine? Why It’s Not So Simple: QuickTake

The EU plans to introduce vaccine passes as of June, which will allow travel for those inoculated or recently recovered from Covid and are thus considered immune. According to the draft of the regulation -- subject to ongoing negotiations between EU governments and the European Parliament -- all vaccines approved by the bloc’s drugs regulator will be acceptable for travel, though EU members are “encouraged” to accept vaccines that have secured World Health Organization approval for emergency use and recognize certificates issued by non-EU nations. The final decision on which vaccines will be accepted rests on individual member states.

“A global division of peoples based around vaccine adoption will only exacerbate and continue the economic and political effects of the pandemic,” said Nicholas Thomas, associate professor in health security at the City University of Hong Kong. “It will risk the world being divided into vaccine silos based on vaccine nationalism rather than medical necessity.”

Mutual Recognition

Many countries have shut their borders amid the pandemic, some allowing entry only to citizens, and even then with weeks-long quarantines after arrival. While vaccines are seen as the way to remove those entry barriers, considerable uncertainty remains over how, or if, nations will differentiate the at least 11 shots available worldwide.

Governments from China to Europe are discussing vaccine passports -- easily accessible and verifiable certifications stating that an individual has been inoculated -- but it’s unclear if countries will pursue universal recognition of all shots, or be selective on which they choose to recognize, particularly with the rise of virus variants and questions over whether the current crop of vaccines are as effective against them.

China eased visa application requirements for foreigners who had been inoculated with Chinese shots in March, including the ability to skip Covid tests or fill out travel declaration forms. The country’s homegrown vaccines are only available in some countries, like Brazil, Pakistan and Serbia. You can’t get Sinovac or the other Chinese shots in the U.S.

But in a sign that Beijing may be cognizant of the economic costs of being selective on vaccines, the Chinese embassy in Washington said this week that travelers who had taken certain western shots could still enter the country if they were departing from Dallas in Texas. State media has indicated that the Pfizer-BioNTech shot is likely to be approved mid-year.

“We do think that it’s important to get a very high percentage of the community vaccinated and the best way to do that is to offer choice,” said Ker Gibbs, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. As a key market and source of business for companies around the world, China’s border restrictions -- among the world’s strictest -- have “had a major impact on our ability to conduct business,” he said.

A Vaccine Passport Is the New Golden Ticket as the World Reopens


“Just speaking with our members, mobility is a high priority for us both in terms of allowing our executives to come in and out of China, but also to have their dependents travel back to China,” Gibbs said. “That’s been a big problem.”

China isn’t the only place that’s restricting access to people with certain vaccinations. Iceland currently omits Chinese and Russian vaccines from the list of those it approves for entry.

The question of vaccine recognition is a key one for tourism-dependent countries, with the $9 trillion global travel industry effectively paralyzed since the pandemic began.

China’s approach to this issue may impact their decision-making, as Chinese tourists have been among the biggest groups of foreign visitors to travel hot spots in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand and capitals as far away as Paris before the pandemic.

There were 155 million outbound tourists in 2019 spending more than $133 billion abroad, according to the China Tourism Academy, a government think tank and subsidiary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. While Indonesia, home to Bali, and Thailand have approved and are administering Chinese shots, New Zealand and Australia -- which has seen its relations with China deteriorate the past year over the virus and trade -- do not.

“I don’t know how practical it will be for western countries to recognize Chinese vaccines given the geopolitical environment,” said Ether Yin, a partner at Trivium China, a Beijing-based consultancy. “But there won’t be a true resumption of global travel or economy without the inclusion of China, plus dozens of economies who used Chinese vaccines.”

Katy Niu, a 26-year old Chinese citizen, is a skiing enthusiast and frequent traveler living in Beijing. It’s unclear whether she’ll be returning to international slopes like those in Japan’s Hokkaido anytime soon. Prior to the pandemic, she used to travel internationally at least three times a year, from shopping on Paris’s Champs Elysées to relaxing on a Southeast Asian beach.

Niu hasn’t gotten a vaccine yet, saying she didn’t feel any urgency since she’s not currently able to travel -- and doesn’t see it opening up in the near future.

“If other countries don’t recognize the Chinese vaccine, does that mean vaccination is not going to make a difference?” she said. “We are not offered a western vaccine anyways -- we don’t have a choice.”
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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Huge Group of Doctors from 30 Countries: ‘There is No Scientific Foundation to the Concept of Vaccine Passports’

5/1/21


https://humansarefree.com/2021/05/huge- ... ports.html


A GROUP of doctors say natural immunity to coronavirus infection is long lasting but fear people will be coerced into taking top-up vaccines in order to re-access society when their Digital Green Pass expires after just six months.

Doctors for Covid Ethics, a group of doctors across Europe and North America, say studies on Covid-19’s closest-related virus to infect humans, SARS, revealed that those who had acquired natural immunity in 2003 remain protected even now.

They also maintain that, even before the onset of vaccination campaigns, most people had become immune to Covid-19, either through infection with the virus itself, often without symptoms or with only mild, uncharacteristic ones, or due to cross-immunity conferred by other, naturally occurring coronaviruses.

But under an Article of Law Decree just published by the European Union, its proposed Digital Green Pass will have validity for just six months.

Once this expires the holder would need to be re-vaccinated or have had Covid in the last six months or take a test every 48 hours in order to regain their freedoms.

Doctors for Covid Ethics argue there is no rational case for such a pass, which is currently being used in Israel and proposed in the UK, adding that immunity from infection is likely to be durable and unaffected by variants.

Doctors for Covid Ethics said:

“There is no scientific foundation to the concept of vaccine passports and no rational case at all for vaccine passports. To set a six-month cut-off is bizarre and arbitrary.

“Examining the time course of antibodies in blood samples is not a valid approach to the question of, ‘how long does immunity last?’.

“This is because antibodies aren’t the most important host defence mechanism in immunity to viruses. That’s considered to be T-cell memory (cytotoxic as well as ‘helper’ lymphocytes) and B-memory (antibody producing) cells.

“Antibodies naturally fall over time if you’re no longer constantly rechallenged with the infective pathogen. As community prevalence falls away, this re-exposure to the virus also diminishes.

“When durability of immunity to the closest known virus, SARS, was studied, those who had acquired immunity naturally, through infection in 2003, all retained immunity 17 years later.

“There is speculation that ‘variants’ of SARS-CoV-2 might ‘break through’ the immunity gained through natural infection or vaccination. There is absolutely no evidence for this at all.

“In fact, there is very strong evidence to the contrary – that no variant is sufficiently different from the original virus that it’s even possible for ‘immune escape’ to occur.

“Several groups of immunologists have shown convincingly that people immune to one variant have T-cells which recognise all the other variants tested. This isn’t a surprise, for no variant differs from the original sequence by more than 0.3 per cent.

“In fact, those who had retained immunity to SARS also possessed cross-immunity to SARS-CoV-2. These two viruses differ by approximately 20 per cent.

“Obviously, if our immune systems easily recognise two viruses which share 80 per cent similarity, it follows that differences of 0.3 per cent are completely irrelevant, from an immunological perspective.”

The group went on to add that focusing on antibodies in the context of vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 is “flawed” and so coercing people into so-called booster vaccines in order to regain their freedoms withdrawn by Governments is wholly inappropriate.

“The whole concept of antibody-based immunity against an air-borne pathogen is flawed because the antibodies are on the wrong side of the wall and cannot intercept viral entry into the respiratory tract epithelium,” added the group.

“Secreted IgA antibodies play no significant role either: selective IgA deficiency does not enhance susceptibility towards coronavirus infections.”

The group also highlights that vaccine companies have been exempt from legal liability for vaccine-induced harm, adding that, for the vast majority of people, SARS-CoV-2 is a non-lethal, typically mild to moderately severe illness.

They said:

“The overwhelming majority of people are not at risk from COVID-19 and do not require vaccination for their own protection.

“The vaccines have been touted as a means to prevent asymptomatic infection and, by extension, asymptomatic transmission. However, “asymptomatic transmission” is an artefact of invalid and unreliable PCR test procedures and interpretations, leading to high false-positive rates.

“Evidence indicates that PCR-positive, asymptomatic people are healthy false-positives, not carriers. A comprehensive study of 9,899,828 people in China found that asymptomatic individuals testing positive for COVID-19 never infected others.

“In contrast, the papers cited by the Centre for Disease Control to justify claims of asymptomatic transmission are based on hypothetical models, not empirical studies; they present assumptions and estimates rather than evidence. Preventing asymptomatic infection is not a viable rationale for promoting vaccination of the general population.”

They have written to MEP’s, putting them on notice that liability for adverse reactions to the vaccines will fall on them, should they vote for the Digital Green Pass, which was debated on Wednesday.

And last week, Doctors for Covid Ethics wrote their third letter to the European Medicines Agency, warning executive director Emer Cooke that cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) dominates the list of adverse reactions from the vaccines and is not as rare as the EMA suggests.
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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Sports stadiums asking fans for their "vaccine passports"

5/3/21


https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-19-v ... -stadiums/


Top officials at the NBA and MLB hope the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is behind them as teams start to welcome fans back into stadiums. But to watch the game live, a growing number of venues are asking visitors to prove they've gotten their shots by displaying what's called a "vaccine passport."

Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, and Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, are among a longer list of sports spaces that now require digital vaccine verifications. Those teams and others have been using an app called Health Pass from technology company Clear for COVID-19 screening. In some cases, showing your status on Health Pass could be the difference between watching a game in person or at home.

"Guests holding valid game tickets who cannot present proof of either a negative COVID-19 test within the required timeframes or proof of a COVID-19 full vaccination will not be allowed inside Yankee Stadium," the New York Yankees said in a statement posted on the team website Friday. "Guests may utilize Health Pass by Clear to confirm your COVID-19 test results for the event."

The NBA said last month it's also using Health Pass for fan screenings. A third of NBA teams were using the app as of April 7, the league said.

The screenings arrive at a time pro sports leagues are projected to lose billions of dollars in revenue because of coronavirus shutdowns. MLB teams were losing a projected $640,000 per game due to the absence of fans, according to league data. The Yankees alone stand to lose $312 million for the lost season, the league said. The NBA meanwhile could lose $3.5 billion from its 2020-21 season because fans weren't buying arena tickets, concession stand food or parking vouchers, commissioner Adam Silver said in December.

Pro sports leagues are now urging fans to return so teams can recoup some of those losses. Yet using apps like Health Pass risks alienating some people, while public debate continues over whether someone's vaccination status should determine their ability to enter both public and private spaces.
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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The Constitution Requires the U.S. to Offer Vaccine Passports

5/4/21


https://slate.com/news-and-politics/202 ... kdown.html


The concept of vaccine passports has opened a new fissure in the COVID culture wars. Many liberals and libertarians—and a slim majority of Americans—support them, while many conservatives call them unjust, even unconstitutional discrimination. On this last point, however, U.S. constitutional law is clear: The government can limit certain rights and privileges to the vaccinated, especially during a pandemic. So the more pertinent question now isn’t whether vaccine passports are allowed; it’s whether they are required—whether the Constitution entitles vaccinated people to receive exemptions from many COVID restrictions. We believe it does.

The term vaccine passport essentially has two different meanings. The first is simply an electronic or paper record showing the holder’s vaccination status, like Canada’s “CANImmunize” credential, the World Health Organization’s yellow fever vaccination “Yellow Card,” or a COVID vaccine card.


More controversially, vaccine passport has come to mean a policy in which the government and businesses exempt vaccinated people from certain restrictions. Beneficiaries are allowed to travel, avoid quarantine, attend sporting/political/arts events, eat in restaurants, and/or patronize other businesses, with few or no restrictions. Those without this credential may face ongoing significant restrictions until a community reaches herd immunity. Many countries like Israel and Denmark already have such a system in place, and for U.S residents, they’re already being implemented for university enrollment and outgoing international travel.

Here’s why governments may be constitutionally required to provide a vaccine passport program for people under continuing restrictions. Under the U.S. Constitution, the government may not tread on fundamental rights unless the policy is “the least restrictive means” to achieve a “compelling” government interest. Even some rights considered nonfundamental may not be infringed without a rational or non-arbitrary reason. Before vaccines, blanket lockdowns, quarantines, and bans on things like travel, public gatherings, and church attendance were a necessary measure to slow the pandemic. The various legal challenges to these measures mostly failed—rightly, in our view. But now, a small but growing set of the population is fully vaccinated, with high efficacy for preventing transmission and success rates at preventing serious illness close to 99 percent or higher.

Facilitating mass immunity—and exempting the immunized from restrictions—is now both the least liberty-restrictive method for ending the pandemic through herd immunity and the most effective one. Imagine a fully vaccinated person whose livelihood is in jeopardy from ongoing travel or business restrictions. She might go to court and argue: “I present little or no danger to the public. So restricting my freedoms and preventing me from contributing to society and the economy isn’t rational, let alone the least restrictive means of protecting the public. Since you’re not lifting restrictions for everyone, the Constitution requires that I be exempt.”

This argument alone should be enough to justify mandating that passports be made available where COVID restrictions are still in place. But public health experts tell us that there are others. Throughout the world, vaccine hesitancy is a barrier to achieving herd immunity. Over a quarter of Americans—and a majority in some areas—say they will not get vaccinated. By offering an additional “carrot” of expanded privileges and freedoms, vaccine passports would nudge at least some to overcome their hesitancy, protecting many additional people from the virus.

Opponents of vaccine passports—such as American conservatives and progressives in Europe and Israel—cite equity or fairness: It’s inappropriate or even unconstitutional, they say, to give some people but not others certain rights. Many conservatives say that the passports coerce people into accepting a vaccine in exchange for recovering their basic liberties. Some argue that governments will use the passports to justify prolonging restrictions. Progressives, on the other hand, are focused on the fact that not everyone has access to the vaccine yet, and that some groups may have more access than others. The WHO has also cautioned against vaccine passports, noting it’s not “certain” that vaccinated people cannot transmit the virus.

These arguments are intuitively appealing, but not ultimately persuasive. Under U.S. law, when the government treats people differently based on whether or not they’ve taken some action, it usually triggers only the lowest level of constitutional scrutiny. In that case, the government need only provide a rational reason to justify the distinction. In fact, U.S. courts have repeatedly upheld schools’ and state requirements that exclude or penalize those who don’t receive certain vaccinations. The justification for vaccine passports will weaken as we reach herd immunity, when even the unvaccinated will pose less of a threat to themselves or others. But for now, there’s reason to expect that a vaccine passport program would hasten herd immunity and the end of the pandemic, and thus the easing of liberty restrictions for everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated.

As to requiring certainty about the impossibility of transmission, there is growing evidence that the vaccinated present extremely little risk of transmission. Regardless, our public health policies in other domains rarely demand zero risk, as the things that fulfill our lives and sustain our livelihoods are rarely 100 percent safe. We allow people with heart conditions to drive, although they sometimes suffer cardiac arrest and hurt others. And we allow people suffering from contagious seasonal flu to freely travel in public, although on average about 35,000 Americans die of influenza each year.

The vaccine is free and already widely available in the United States. In many places where it is less available, the groups that still have the least access (younger and healthier people) are also least vulnerable to the virus. As for those who cannot get a vaccine for medical, transportation access, or other reasons, some governments like the European Union are reportedly considering providing passports to those who recently and regularly test negative, or to those who can show sufficient antibodies after having recovered from the illness. Sadly, many countries in the Global South like India are likely to have little vaccine access for some time. The inequitable global distribution of vaccine access is troubling; rich countries can do more to help, like sending equipment and opening vaccine patents. But not introducing vaccine passports on fairness grounds would do nothing to promote global access—if anything, it might do the opposite by deepening the pandemic’s economic impact.

Constitutional choices sometimes involve difficult trade-offs between liberty and safety. This is not one of those times. Vaccine passports would promote both liberty and safety, while responsibly hastening our return to (near) normalcy.
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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World’s Biggest Economies Bet Vaccine Passports Can Save Tourism

5/4/21


https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... -passports


The world’s most powerful economies agreed to back plans for so-called vaccine passports in a bid to pull the travel and tourism industry out of a pandemic-fueled slump.

Tourism ministers from the Group of 20 threw their weight behind the new certificates, stressing that a resumption of normal activity for the sector is crucial to global economic recovery, according to Italian Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia.

A virtual gathering on Tuesday, the first such meeting under the Italian presidency of the forum, backed efforts for safe mobility, coordinating with initiatives including the European Union’s Digital Green Certificate. That document will show the bearer has been fully vaccinated, has immunity via recovery, or recently tested negative.

Garavaglia told a press conference in Rome that he had requested, and obtained from European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton, a commitment to accelerate introduction of the EU green certificate as much as possible. “Tourism will be the key to recovery once the pandemic is defeated,” Garavaglia said.

Hard-hit Sector

Travel and tourism has been one of the industries hit hardest by restrictions on activity to contain the coronavirus. Its contribution to global output collapsed by 49% to $4.7 trillion in 2020, causing the loss of 62 million jobs, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. International visitor spending plunged by an unprecedented 69%.

“Our mountains, our beaches, our cities are reopening,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at the press conference. “I have no doubt that tourism in Italy will come back stronger than before.”

Thomas Bareiss, a German deputy economy minister who took part in the meeting, said a new start for tourism should be guided by the principle of “build back better.”

“We agreed that we want a more resilient, more sustainable and more inclusive tourism sector in order to be better equipped for the future,” Bareiss said in an emailed statement.

EU member states would reopen borders to travelers from countries with relatively low infection rates, as well as those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, under a proposal unveiled on Monday. It could be adopted as soon as the end of May.
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