At present, vaccination status does not offer clear or conclusive evidence about any individual’s risk to others via transmission. Without that, it cannot be a robust basis for risk-based decision making, and therefore any roll out of a digital passport is not currently justified. Such is the conclusion from a urgent expert deliberation on ‘What place should COVID-19 vaccine passports have in society?’ from the British Ada Lovelace Insitute to the UK government.
The 17 experts does underline that vaccine passports can increase freedom for those with a vaccination, but for those without a passport it would constitute a denial of liberties that others are being granted. ‘Therefore the justifications both for the relaxation of current restrictions for some and also for their continuation for others should be clearly articulated,’ they state.
In the long run, a vaccine pass might be useful, they state:
“Given that evidence on transmission will emerge, and other countries and companies are developing such systems, the UK Government must act urgently to address the public policy issues that arise, and create clear and specific guidelines and law around any appropriate uses, mechanisms for enforcement and methods of legal redress.”
Some of the recommendations to the UK government are:
- Set scientific pre-conditions based on vaccine efficacy and transmission, durability and generalisability
- Identify the urgent use cases, such as for frontline workers and employment in general so that the benefits and risks can be assessed if the scientific pre-conditions are met
- Offer urgent clarification on the current legal status of the development and use of vaccine passports
- Engage publics on any potential uses to understand impacts, build trust and legitimacy
- Work through the World Health Organisation on international travel use cases.