Health / Immunity Passports

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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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Everything travelers need to know about vaccine passports
What they are, where they’re already in use — and why you may need one for travel soon

3/30/21


https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2 ... _fullstory


Since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, health and travel officials alike have pointed to vaccinations as the route back to unrestricted travel. Now that vaccinations are picking up in the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is issuing thousands of vaccination cards daily, apps that aim to verify travelers’ inoculations are quickly rolling out — with some already being used by airlines.

But what is a vaccine passport, and how will it be utilized for a safe return to travel? Here’s what experts say the travel programs aim to accomplish, what their limitations are and where they are already being used.

What is a vaccine passport?

Vaccine passports for the purpose of travel are primarily taking shape as free mobile apps where international travelers upload their proof of a vaccination as well as any necessary coronavirus test results or other health waivers. The goal is to digitize individual countries’ paper vaccination certificates into internationally recognized passes for travel. A few options for vaccine passports exist for Americans so far, and other countries and regions have also developed, or are in the process of developing, their own.

CommonPass, created by the nonprofit Commons Project, has been in use internationally for coronavirus test results since October. The program operates on iOS and Android devices, functioning as a scannable QR code that holds a passenger’s test data or vaccine documentation, as well as their booked travel. The program, which is still in trial use through participating airlines and governments, is available for use only with a participating airline’s invitation code.

An app in development by the International Air Transport Association, the IATA Travel Pass, is slated to be available for Apple users in mid-April and will be rolled out to Android users by the end of that month, according to the IATA. A Contactless Travel Pass portion of the app aims to enable passengers to create a “digital passport,” upload official test and vaccination certificates, verify that they are sufficient for their itinerary, and then share those certificates with airlines. The IATA app will also provide travelers with a registry of health requirements and testing/vaccination centers in their area.

IBM has also rolled out its own digital vaccination pass, IBM Digital Health Pass, which has a focus on returning to the workplace and other businesses as well as potential travel scenarios.

Where are vaccine passports already in use?

While some people are fully vaccinated and some governments are accepting travelers with proof of vaccination, vaccine passport apps are not an option for everyone. Only some travelers can use vaccine passports right now — mainly for their test results and health waivers on certain airline routes that permit them as a standard.

Since December, passengers have been using CommonPass for testing verification on select flights out of New York, Boston, London, and Hong Kong with United, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International and Virgin Atlantic. Those options are in addition to previous trial routes for United and Cathay Pacific Flights to London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore. JetBlue started allowing passengers from Boston to Aruba to use the digital pass in mid-March, with plans to expand it to departure cities throughout the airline’s network.

The IATA’s Health Pass, meanwhile, recently garnered trial use on several international air carriers, including Emirates, Copa, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines. So far, 21 airlines have signed up for the pass, and two — Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways — have launched full pilots.

Outside of those privately developed apps, several countries and regions are creating their own vaccine passports. Malaysia’s Immunitee Health Passport is now accepted by Singapore for entry, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a proposal at the beginning of March for a privacy-friendly vaccine passport for use in Europe. Officials in the European Union hope “digital green certificates” will be ready by June to allow for summer travel. Travelers would use the pass to show they had been vaccinated, recovered from the virus or tested negative.

CommonPass has put a similar emphasis on protecting travelers’ personal information, said Thomas Crampton, spokesman for the Commons Project.

“When vaccination does take place, the architecture is such that people will now be able to gather, manage and share their vaccination status, as well as their testing status, in a privacy-protecting matter,” Crampton said. The implementation of the app is up to airlines and local governments requiring test results or vaccinations for travel.

Some vaccine passports are being developed for everyday use, not just travel. New York’s Excelsior Pass, which launches this week, will be accepted at sports, event, arts and entertainment venues, USA Today reported. It is built on IBM’s platform. That type of certificate has gotten some pushback, including from Florida’s governor, who said he would ban such a requirement.

Why the delays?

The challenge with any broader rollouts of vaccine passports, the IATA has said, is the global inconsistency in requirements for health passes.

“There is no standard in place in terms of what the key elements of a certificate would look like nor even the digitalization of a certificate … from one country to another, and no one is following any level of consistency whatsoever,” Nick Careen, a senior vice president at the IATA, recently told The Points Guy. “The first step is to work with our two regulators. And that is ongoing work.”

Careen said he expects that work, and a World Health Organization decision on digital certificate standards, to be completed by May.

The Washington Post reported this week that the Biden administration is working with private companies to develop a standardized way for people to demonstrate their vaccination status. But the effort is fraught with challenges, and at least 17 passport initiatives are in the works, the story said.


What do vaccine passports mean for you?

A vaccine passport, experts note, is not an “immunity passport.” It is still unclear how long immunity lasts after recovering from the virus or after receiving a vaccine, and it is also unclear whether vaccinated people can carry and spread the virus without experiencing symptoms themselves.

Shira Doron, a hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said a majority of people will need to be vaccinated for herd immunity to be achieved.

“Immunity itself is not a means for travel with an assumption you can’t [spread] the virus,” Doron said. “With a vaccine passport, we still actually don’t know once you’re vaccinated, whether you can get into an asymptomatic carrier state and transmit it just as easily as someone not vaccinated. … We may find out that people who are vaccinated may still be able to carry the disease in their airways.”

What are the objections?

Beyond warnings that vaccinated people could transmit the coronavirus, experts have also argued that requiring vaccine passports could create an unethical global incentive for inoculating travelers before prioritizing doses for at-risk populations in poorer countries with less access to vaccinations. The WHO has recommended against mandating vaccine passports for entry for that reason: Doctors have warned that 1 in 4 nations will not see any coronavirus vaccinations this year.
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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Hawaii moving forward using coronavirus vaccine passport for travel

3/30/21

https://www.khon2.com/coronavirus/hawai ... or-travel/


HONOLULU (KHON2) — State officials are moving toward issuing some type of vaccination passport to travel in and out of Hawaii as thousands of Hawaii residents get vaccinated against COVID-19 every day.

The passport could come in the form of an app or be as simple as the vaccination card people receive after being vaccinated.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green says the state can have travelers use the vaccination card as proof while waiting for an app to be ready. Officials at the airport can check them to see if they are authentic.


Concerns over coronavirus travel passport verification process

“You would have a company that would do spot checking and certainly, you can check the card itself and make sure that it looks legitimate and so on,” said Green.

He says not many people would be willing to fake a vaccination card while knowing they could be fined up to $5,000 and spend one year in prison.


Will you need a ‘vaccine passport’ to travel?

“I think if people are gonna show their card for a trip, it’s gonna be very rare that someone goes to that length and put themselves kind of in jeopardy to just have a vacation,” said Green.

He says the state is ultimately looking to work with a local company called First Vitals to create an app that shows proof of vaccination.


Fully vaccinated people may be able to travel inter-island with fewer restrictions by April

“They would be able to verify the health record, they would then encrypt it so people can’t steal someone’s health record. Although really, all it is is whether you got vaccinated or not and your name and the date it occurred,” said Green.

Those who are fully vaccinated will get a QR code on the app if the record shows that it has been at least two weeks since their last shot. Tourism officials say it will not only bring in more visitors but boost inter-island travel among residents.

“That’s what we see, families that haven’t seen each other for a while that live in Kauai, Maui, Hawaii Island, Oahu. And this will allow that kind of travel to take place without the additional cost of being tested,” said Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.

Green says Hawaii is administering up to 10,000 doses of the vaccine every day, so it is safe to move forward with this proposal.

“I would love to pilot it in mid-April with the cards at least for inter-island travel. I think that makes a lot of sense. It would immediately empower probably about half of our travelers inside the islands to travel safely,” he said.

It would ultimately be up to the governor with input from the mayors.
trader32176
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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OBEY: New York becomes first state to launch “vaccine passport” for coronavirus jab recipients

3/30/21


https://pandemic.news/2021-03-30-new-yo ... virus.html


In order to once again attend sporting events at Madison Square Garden, visit art galleries or eat at restaurants, New Yorkers will soon need an “Excelsior Pass,” the nation’s first “vaccine passport” for recipients of Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19) injections.

The program will require New Yorkers to either receive a “vaccine” or test “negative” for the Chinese virus before being allowed inside various venues. Users will either need to show the Excelsior Pass on their smartphones or carry around a printout bearing a QR code as proof of compliance.

According to the “EPass” website, a special app will “store Passes on a mobile device for easy access at any time.”

“Each Pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination,” a news release explains.

“An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.”

The office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the app will be ready for larger businesses within the next few days. By April 2, smaller “arts, entertainment and event” venues will also be ready for compliance.

When scanned, an Excelsior Pass will not display a user’s health information. Instead, it will simply show either a green checkmark if the person was vaccinated or tested “negative” for the Wuhan flu, or a giant red “X” if not. The data used to display one or the other mark is reportedly encrypted on a blockchain.

“Vaccine passports” are the next layer of the mark of the beast

This latest “innovation” represents the next installment of the mark of the beast. Though not yet fully mandated across the globe, the world is getting a sneak peek at how the system will work.

After receiving an injection that forever alters a person’s DNA, rendering him or her non-human, the “vaccine passport” then connects that empty soul to the blockchain.

Soon, these “vaccine passports” will morph into microchip implants that cannot be stolen or hacked like a smartphone can. Expect to hear reports in the near future about how “vaccine passports” are not secure enough, requiring that they be converted into digital marks that are injected into the right hand or forehead.

At first the mark will probably be “optional,” just like the “vaccines” and associated “passports” currently are. Refusers will be told they cannot attend concerts, go the movies, travel or eat out. Then the requirements will expand to one’s employment before finally becoming a requirement in order to buy and sell.

This is a process that readers must recognize takes time. Just because all of this is not currently mandated does not meant that it isn’t in the works — it won’t stay optional forever. We have already seen how masks went from optional to “required,” and the same thing will likely soon happen with the vaccines. Then it will become the chip.

“This only represents the beginning,” adds Evan James, writing for Big League Politics.

“It would not come as a shock if such ‘passports’ became available in many other states and were implemented by numerous hospital networks, airlines, sports arenas and stadiums, and so on.”

Many readers agreed, observing that such insanity is entirely unconstitutional – that is if Americans are actually willing to stand up for their precious constitutional rights, which are being eroded daily.

“I’m not doing this,” wrote one commenter. “If America has come to this, there will be another revolution.”

“My medical records are nobody’s business,” wrote another. “There are laws against this!”
trader32176
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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Coronavirus: Dozens of MPs criticise 'divisive' Covid passports

4/2/21


https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-56605598


Demanding a Covid passport as proof of a jab or test to access jobs or services is "dangerous, discriminatory and counterproductive", opponents say.

Baroness Chakrabarti warned the passports risked creating a "checkpoint Britain" as more than 70 MPs railed against their use in England.

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn and senior Tory Iain Duncan Smith are among a broad coalition who pledged their opposition.

The government said no final decision had been made on Covid passports.

But a series of Covid passport trials are being planned to test their use in different venues, the Daily Telegraph reported.

A review is taking place into whether passports could help to reopen the economy in England, with discussions also taking place across the devolved nations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said people could be asked to provide a vaccine certificate for entry into pubs in England, saying it "may be up to individual publicans".

Certification could involve people being either vaccinated, having had a recent negative test or having previously been infected, the PM said.

Baroness Chakrabarti told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's one thing to have a passport to travel internationally, that is a privilege, even a luxury, but participation in local community life is a fundamental right."

She added: "To introduce two queues at the cinema, two queues at the football stadium going forward, is to introduce checkpoint Britain that so many of us just do not want."

The Labour peer, a former head of human rights organisation Liberty, said passports could see "policing power" given "to every bouncer or unscrupulous boss".

"It's a recipe for bullying, it's a recipe for corruption, it's a recipe for discrimination and it's not what we sacrificed so much for as a community over the past year," she said.

Pub vaccine passports not British - Starmer
Vaccine passports 'could be short-term tool'
Will I need a vaccine passport to go to the pub or travel?

The plan could also "scupper things" for hospitality venues who are trying to reopen, Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said.

She told BBC Breakfast: "It is a difficult process for us to implement... and yet today we have not had a consultation with the government about how we would do this in pubs."

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said vaccine passports could also be used as a "tool in the short term" to reopen theatres and sports stadiums.

A cross-party group of MPs and peers have signed a pledge saying they "oppose the divisive and discriminatory use of Covid status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs".

The issue has brought together some unlikely allies, with many of Mr Corbyn's former shadow cabinet joining the lockdown-sceptic Covid Research Group of Conservative MPs in backing the campaign.

Accusing the government of "creeping authoritarianism", Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey said: "As we start to get this virus properly under control we should start getting our freedoms back. Vaccine passports - essentially Covid ID cards - take us in the other direction."

Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, added: "With high levels of vaccination protecting the vulnerable and making transmission less likely, we should aim to return to normal life, not to put permanent restrictions in place."

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told BBC News he was "not convinced that vaccine passports for use within the UK is proportionate to the risk".

"It would be divisive, effectively creating an underclass of people who are not vaccinated, many of whom won't be vaccinated for medical reasons," he added. "It's a major infringement of civil liberties."

Privacy campaigning organisation Big Brother Watch also signed the pledge, arguing it could "create a two-tier nation of division, discrimination and injustice".

In a report - entitled "Access Denied" - the group said if certificates were brought in, it would be "the first policy for decades that could see segregation imposed throughout the population".

Unlikely coalition hardens opposition

Analysis box by Jonathan Blake, political correspondent

Political opposition to the idea of Covid passports is hardening among some, even before the government announces its plans.

The unlikely coalition of more than 70 MPs and peers of varying political colours shows that the issue crosses party lines.

Boris Johnson has talked increasingly openly about the idea in general, perhaps trying to prepare people for what is to come.

But will principled objections to asking people to prove their Covid status scupper the prime minister's plans?

That depends on exactly what is proposed and how Labour and rebellious Conservatives respond.

If and when it comes to a vote in the House of Commons, the government can't be sure at this point that it will have the support it needs.
2px presentational grey line

The campaign comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer this week said the use of Covid passports to decide whether people can enter pubs would go against the "British instinct".

A government spokeswoman said: "The review is considering a range of issues, including the ethical, equalities, privacy, legal and operational aspects and what limits, if any, should be placed on organisations using certification."

Meanwhile, the prime minister is preparing to give an update on the UK's Covid situation on Monday.

He is expected to confirm that data suggests the next stage of lockdown could ease in England on 12 April and that a traffic light system could be implemented for foreign travel, with countries being categorised as red, amber or green.
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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Biden White House Plans 'Vaccine Passports'

3/28/21


https://www.newsmax.com/us/vaccine-covi ... d/1015502/


The White House is working on a COVID-19 vaccine passport initiative that could be required for travel, sporting events and even eating out, reports The Washington Post.

The report comes as major U.S. airlines and nearly 30 travel and labor groups are pushing President Joe Biden to develop a standardized, government-backed credential to "accelerate safe economic activity and recovery."

"The U.S. must be a leader in this development," the groups wrote in a letter to COVID-19 Recovery Team Coordinator Jeff Zients on Monday. "The current diverse and fragmented digital health credentials used to implement different countries' air travel testing requirements risk causing confusion, reducing compliance, and increasing fraud."

Zients and the Department of Health and Human Services are leading the effort, according to sources who spoke with the Post. The White House declined to answer questions about the initiative and instead directed the news outlet to public statements made by Zients and other officials this month on the topic.

"Our role is to help ensure that any solutions in this area should be simple, free, open source, accessible to people both digitally and on paper, and designed from the start to protect people’s privacy," Zients said at a March 12 briefing.

The initiative has presented multiple challenges for the administration, including data privacy issues and healthcare equity. Additionally, at least 17 other initiatives are already underway.

The Vaccine Credential Initiative, a collaboration between tech and health care companies to develop technology that would store a secure copy of an individual’s vaccination record in a digital wallet on a person’s smartphone, is already in the works.

"The busboy, the janitor, the waiter that works at a restaurant, wants to be surrounded by employees that are going back to work safely - and wants to have the patrons ideally be safe as well," Brian Anderson, a physician at Mitre, a nonprofit company that runs federally funded research centers, who is helping lead the initiative, told the Post.

"Creating an environment for those vulnerable populations to get back to work safely - and to know that the people coming back to their business are ‘safe,’ and vaccinated - would be a great scenario."

Some experts say the moves are premature.

"I think it's premature to be talking about how we get people these immunizations certificates," L.J Tan, CSO at the Immunization Action Coalition, told Advisory Board in January.

"Our focus should be on getting people vaccinated. Once we get enough people vaccinated then we can leverage that vaccinated pool for analysis."

Nita Farany, a professor and director of the Initiative for Science & Society at Duke University, told Advisory she had concerns of passports creating a "two-tiered society" where individuals who haven’t received a vaccine don’t have access to public places and jobs versus those who are vaccinated.

"I'm just opposed to it right now, when there is a significant limitation on the number of people who can get access to Covid vaccines," she said.
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issues order prohibiting state from issuing 'vaccine passports'

“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine,” DeSantis said.

4/2/21


https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/fl ... e-n1262929


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rolled out an executive order on Friday aimed at curtailing the use of “vaccine passports,” or documentation to show proof of vaccination.

The order says government entities in Florida are prohibited from issuing "vaccine passports ... or other standardized documentation for the purpose of certifying an individual's COVID-19 vaccination status to a third party."

“Today I issued an executive order prohibiting the use of so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports," DeSantis, a Republican, said in a tweet. "The Legislature is working on making permanent these protections for Floridians and I look forward to signing them into law soon.”

In the order, DeSantis said that vaccination records are private information, “which should not be shared by mandate,” and that “vaccine passports reduce individual freedom and will harm patient privacy.”

Taking effect immediately, it also bans businesses from requiring customers to provide documentation verifying a Covid-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery in order to gain access or service from the business.

The order comes after DeSantis announced on Monday that he would take steps to forbid “vaccine passports” and such documentation. That same day, more Floridians became eligible for vaccination.

“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 participate in normal society,” he said.

As of this week, Florida has over 2 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with around 34,000 deaths, according to NBC News’ count. Meanwhile, Florida has administered more than 6 million vaccine doses, with 16.3 percent fully vaccinated in the state.
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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How to lose friends and alienate people? On the problems of vaccine passports

4/1/21


https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2021/04/01/ho ... passports/


Are “vaccine passports” a good idea? Well, much depends on what is meant by the term, for it is used to refer to a host of very different things.

First, it can refer to many different activities, from the ability to travel abroad to the ability to go to work.

Second, it can refer to many different people, from the population at large to those in specific occupations.

Third, it can refer to many different times, from early in the vaccine rollout to the point where the entire population has been offered their two jabs.

Public support for vaccine passports varies greatly as a function of these various factors. By and large, survey evidence from a range of countries, including the UK, suggests that people are more favourable to the idea to the extent that it relates to activities seen as optional (rather than integral) to everyday life such as international travel, to those (such as health staff) who work with vulnerable populations, and to a future date when the vaccine rollout is completed. [1-3] That is why Boris Johnson’s specific suggestion that pub landlords might demand evidence of vaccination before allowing entry has proved so controversial even amongst his own allies, and indeed has led to some rapid backtracking by the prime minister. [4-6]

There are many reasons to oppose “vaccine passports” for everyday social activities like going to the pub. They raise a whole series of technical, ethical, and legal questions about how certification would work, how privacy could be maintained, how the scheme would be implemented and enforced, how fraud could be avoided. [7-10]

They also raise a whole series of social and political questions notably about social inequalities, social division, and social conflict. Indeed, this is a pandemic of inequality where, on almost every measure, including vaccine take-up, there are significant differences between the privileged and the deprived, the secure and the vulnerable. This is certainly true of Israel, whose green pass scheme is seemingly the model for Johnson’s comments. Here, the Israeli Arab population constitute 39% of those who have had no vaccination, though they only constitute 21% of the population. [11-12] Indeed, in some Arab villages the vaccination rate is little over 1%. It is equally true of the UK, as the latest ONS figures reveal. Among the over 70s, 91.3% of white British people have had a first dose, higher than any other ethnic group. Among Black Africans, the figure falls as low as 58.8%. [13]

While the reasons for these discrepancies are complex (certainly, in Israel as in the UK, the vaccine is freely available to all), the danger is that adding vaccine passports to such existing vaccine inequities results in a form of vaccine apartheid. Members of marginalised groups, who are less likely to be vaccinated, are thereby more likely to be excluded from participation in everyday social life. If such social division is not serious enough on its own, the enforcement of this exclusion—through demanding that people produce their vaccine passports to be in public spaces or places that people feel they have a right to enter (not only pubs, but also shops, live events, and workplaces) runs the danger of creating flashpoints of collective conflict. [14]

But at this point in the argument, those supporting vaccine passports can produce a strong trump card. In addition to generating economic and social activity, a key justification for the policy is to give those who might otherwise be reluctant an incentive to get vaccinated. This becomes especially important as vaccine roll out begins to include younger age groups who suffer less from covid-19 infections and therefore have less reason to get the vaccine in order to protect their health. The ability to go to the pub is designed precisely in order to provide just such a reason. [15] In other words, it is argued that vaccine passports help increase take-up and ensure that no-one needs to be left out.

At first glance, it is a plausible position. So, it is important to consider the evidence on vaccine passports and vaccine take up. One US study from September 2020 suggests that incentives could have an effect—although these are incentives like visiting a care home, travel, attending religious gatherings, going to work and school rather than social activities like going to the pub. [16] Another small Israeli survey found that 31% of respondents said that the green pass would persuade them to get vaccinated while 41% said it would not. [17]

These are modest findings, but there is an important caveat even so. The data are based on general population samples, but the critical issue is not the effect that vaccine passports might have on people in general. If one wants to increase take-up, it is the effect on those individuals and communities who harbour doubts about vaccination which matters.

Based on hard experience, such communities (ethnic minorities in particular) have reason to question whether medical and governmental authorities treat their needs as a priority and this historical distrust provides a framework for interpreting contemporary pandemic policies. [18] Members of these communities are more attuned to the possibility that such policies (including vaccination) are something done to them rather than done for them by authorities who are not of them but against them. Moreover, there are plenty of anti-vaxxers aiming to promote this view by arguing that covid measures are not a matter of public health, but of social control by a hostile elite. [19] The reality, and even the rumour, of vaccine passports for core activities serves to give substance to these fears and to give traction to the anti-vaxxers. Passports can be seen as confirming the perception that vaccination is a measure of compulsion imposed upon the community. And once people begin to regard vaccines as compulsory then the evidence suggests that this produces anger and reduces willingness to get vaccinated. [20]

All in all, there are reasons to conclude that vaccine passports for basic activities may actually undermine vaccine rollout by disincentivising the very populations who most need incentivising. Closer inspection of the Israeli “green pass” scheme serves to reinforce this message. The evidence for passes increasing vaccination uptake is weak, while suspicions of compulsion and reports of people barred from workplaces for not being vaccinated have “resulted in antagonism and increased distrust among individuals who were already concerned about infringement on citizens’ rights”. [21] By contrast, what has proved successful in Israel are basic measures of community engagement: involving trusted community leaders, taking mobile vaccination units into communities, bringing along medical experts who can answer any questions, and providing food and drink to those who attend, has proved successful in Israel. [22]

To conclude: there are many good reasons to reject any passport scheme which makes everyday social participation dependent on vaccination. There are arguments on the grounds of liberties, of equalities, and of practicalities. However, even some of the grounds used to support them (i.e. vaccine take-up) may be another reason to oppose them. At a point in the pandemic where increased engagement is critical, both in order to overcome doubts about vaccination, and to enhance the pandemic response more generally, the mere possibility of vaccine passports threatens to alienate marginalised communities still further. [23,24]

So, let’s stop discussing the use of vaccine passports as a criterion for basic social and economic participation. This is an idea with few redeeming features and even talking about introducing them may be enough to do damage.
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Re: Health / Immunity Passports

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Covid-19 Vaccine Passports Are Coming. What Will That Mean?

Scores of plans to verify immunity are in the works. But there are even more questions about how they’ll use data, protect privacy—and who gets certified first.


4/2/21

https://www.wired.com/story/covid-19-va ... that-mean/


Sometime soon, you might arrive at an airport or a stadium or a restaurant, open an app or flash a card, and be admitted to a place or experience that was denied you during the pandemic. You will have just deployed a vaccine passport, a certification of either vaccination status or immunity following a natural infection that confirms you no longer pose a risk to others.

“Soon” is right now in Israel, where a passport debuted in February that lets vaccinated people attend events and patronize restaurants and gyms in the country, and in Estonia and Iceland, where proof of vaccination allows non-citizens to enter without quarantine. Soon is probably the near future for other rich countries that vaccinated their citizens early—including in the United States, where the Biden administration has committed to the concept of vaccine passports and is pushing the Department of Health and Human Services to set standards for competing private-sector products.

But soon is nowhere in reach for the low- and middle-income countries that have received only a small number of vaccines or haven’t been able to begin their vaccination campaigns. Which means the arrival of vaccine passports could let affluent societies reach the far side of the pandemic while poor ones are still waiting to be protected from it, reinforcing the economic divides that the pandemic made so evident.

There are so many proposals for what might make up vaccine passports—where the data is held, how frameworks are built to protect it, what the app that delivers it looks like—that it’s a little early to talk about their final form. But experts say there will be no escaping their development and that it is not too soon to discuss whether they will endanger privacy, exacerbate inequity, and create a two-tiered world.

“There is an inevitability to this,” says Alexandra Phelan, an international law scholar and faculty member of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University School of Medicine. “Fundamentally, governments are wanting to implement these mechanisms, because they are not only about protecting public health but about restarting the economy and removing barriers to travel.”

Vaccine passports are tricky to talk about, because they are not yet well-defined. “Passport” implies a document endorsed by a state that establishes citizenship and guarantees diplomatic protection. What is being discussed is more like the World Health Organization’s “yellow card.” That document’s actual name is the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, a form that was created in the 1930s to indicate that travelers have received certain vaccines but that isn’t certified by individual governments. (Except indirectly: Physicians holding state or national licenses sign the vaccine records on the card.)

The yellow card primarily attests to yellow fever vaccination, because anyone infected with that disease could unknowingly carry it to a virus-free country and seed it among mosquitoes there. (Trivia: The card doesn’t get its name from the disease but rather from the color of its sturdy cardstock, which can withstand being folded up inside a passport and handled a lot.) It is not currently used to certify Covid-19 vaccination, though some experts have recommended that adding it would be a simple fix.

“‘Passport’ is kind of a misnomer. ‘Digital certification of vaccination status,’ or something like that, is probably more applicable,” says Josh Michaud, associate director for global health policy at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which is preparing a briefing document on them. “But passports is the name that we're probably stuck with, unfortunately.”


Meanwhile, the conflation of evidence of immunity with proof of citizenship—and the next-step conclusion that national identity implies a national mandate to be vaccinated—is making vaccine passports the latest missile in the culture wars. They were derided on several Fox News programs earlier this week, and on Tuesday, Florida governor Ron DeSantis threatened to ban them from being used in his state.

Thus far, only a few certifications offered in the US could be construed as a passport. In March, the state of New York began using Excelsior Pass, an app developed by IBM that draws on the state’s vaccine registry to verify vaccination status for people who want to attend events or go to venues for which the state has set capacity limitations. Nationally, people who receive their vaccines at Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies can have them certified via standards developed by the Vaccination Credential Initiative, a coalition of nonprofits and companies including Microsoft, Salesforce, and the Mayo Clinic. Walmart draws on the chains’ pharmacy records and can report results to several existing health record apps. Both the Walmart effort and the New York app deliver confirmations via QR codes that can be kept on a phone or printed out.

More such programs are coming. European Union officials have announced plans to develop a “digital green certificate” by this summer in hopes of rescuing the tourism season, and the African Union and Africa CDC are developing a My Covid Pass to allow safe border crossing across the continent. The World Health Organization has convened a “smart vaccination certificate” working group to develop international standards. The Ada Lovelace Institute in the United Kingdom maintains a list of countries that have launched passports or expressed plans to create them. Sponsors and developers who have expressed interest include the World Economic Forum, the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Air Transport Association, the Linux Foundation, MIT, Brown University, MasterCard, the Canadian national health care system, the PathCheck Foundation (which developed open source contact-tracing apps), and an array of smaller companies.

The aim of all these efforts is to reopen free movement globally, but one example, the Chinese government’s proposed passport, demonstrates they can have layered goals. The government has announced it will only admit travelers who can prove they received Chinese-made vaccines. But since those formulas have not been approved by the US or EU, the passport represents a de facto bar to travelers from those areas—or a subtle boost to the desirability of the Chinese vaccines, which China has been offering to governments around the world.

It’s already understood that rich countries have bought up and administered most of the extant vaccine supply. This means that, once vaccine passports become available, the citizens of rich countries will be the first to benefit from the travel privileges they will confer.

“This reflects historic and ongoing injustices,” says Phelan, who cowrote a March New York Times op-ed with epidemiologist Saskia Popescu arguing that the inequality of vaccine passports could extend the pandemic. “One of the few leverages we have now on high-income countries to share vaccines, aside from it being the right thing to do, is the desire to get back to international travel and opening borders. That leverage will be lost if we move toward high-income countries going back to what they consider normal.”

The potential injustice isn’t only among nations. Many of the proposed passports rely on smartphone apps. That seems a reasonable move, given the paper yellow card has been counterfeited in the past, and faked Covid-19 vaccination cards are being reported now. But though most people in the US own some kind of mobile phone, one out of five doesn’t possess a smartphone—and those who don’t are clustered in higher age groups, lower income ranges, and among minority communities.

“What happens if they need to show that they've been vaccinated to get into a grocery store or a pharmacy, and that's not something that their phone is capable of doing?” asks Maimuna Majumder, a faculty member in the Computational Health Informatics Program at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “I don't think that anybody who's trying to create a smartphone app for a vaccine passport is thinking through that lens. That creates a situation where you're going to have to back-engineer solutions, which from a software development point of view is not something that you want to be doing.”

It’s worth pointing out that the people less likely to own smartphones are also, in many cases, members of groups who have had difficulty accessing vaccination—and, in addition, members of groups who are entitled to distrust that the US government has their welfare in mind.

“We need to make sure we're not creating more disparities than already exist in our health system,” said Justin Beck, founder of Contakt World, which works with the PathCheck Foundation on contact tracing and vaccine administration apps. “Those go beyond just smartphone usage, to: What if people aren't literate? What if they don't speak English? What if they have real reasons why they're not getting vaccinated? Passports raise a lot of equity issues that go beyond smartphone use, and we’ll have to spend a lot of time and resources overcoming them.”

But minority groups aren’t the only slices of the US who face difficulty getting vaccinated and therefore wouldn’t qualify for a passport. Children are not yet eligible for the shots; there has been hesitancy among pregnant women; and Catholic bishops have raised objections to one of the authorized vaccines. Plus, access to vaccines has varied so much by state that large numbers of working-age adults who would like to be vaccinated haven’t qualified yet. Until they get the shot, they can’t have a passport, either.

The flip side of the problem of exclusion is worries over privacy: Where is the data on vaccination status held, how much gets shared, what will the incentives be to access it inappropriately? Those are the same concerns that kept contact-tracing apps from being widely used in the US last year. In a recent Daily Beast op-ed coauthored with Divya Ramjee, a criminal justice researcher and senior fellow at American University’s Center for Security, Innovation, and New Technology, Majumder argues that communities of color are more likely to face routine requests to give up their privacy in order to qualify for government assistance or because they belong to immigrant groups that are more likely to be surveilled. Any app that feels like a similar invasion will encounter resistance, she predicts.

The vaccine-passport discussion feels like it has arrived suddenly, maybe because, up to this point, governments were more focused on developing shots than envisioning life on the far side of a vaccination campaign. But if passports are intended to nurture the global economy as well as public life within nations, they have to adhere to standards of digital identity and interoperability that are mutually agreed on—and those discussions are just starting now.

“Governments are still trying to do their own thing, because they feel that they need to own the data, without really understanding that you can build a system in one country, but someone else has to be able to accept data from it,” says Chami Akmeemana, the CEO of Convergence.tech, whose Trybe.ID Travel Pass certifying vaccinations and test results has been adopted by the government of Singapore. “Right now there’s not a lot of alignment.”

The paradox of vaccine passports, or whatever they end up being called, is that a tool meant to unite the world after lockdown could instead end up balkanizing it into closed systems where only certain apps are accepted, only certain vaccine brands are welcome, only some documentation is accessible. Those predictable dangers make it necessary to proceed carefully. Otherwise, Phelan says, “this can potentially undermine international peace and security, and the solidarity that's needed for the post-pandemic recovery to go forward.”
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