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Opinion: The case for issuing Covid-19 vaccine passports

March 9, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 25.6%. 2 min read.

The world's Covid-battered economy could benefit from a system identifying those who'd been vaccinated against Covid-19, writes David A. Andelman. Although there are valid ethical concerns about creating two-tier societies, a Covid passport would allow business venues to screen for admission and perhaps also persuade countries still barring visitors to admit those who've been vaccinated.

(CNN)There was a time when international travelers had to carry a small yellow booklet called an "International Vaccination Certificate. " I still have mine, with stamps inside indicating I'd been vaccinated against typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, even bubonic plague.

But in 1980 the World Health Assembly declared that the world was free of smallpox and -- other than in a few countries still requiring proof of yellow fever immunization -- the need for vaccination certificates has largely faded as well.

Already the European Commission has indicated its support for a Digital Green Pass vaccination certificate, with a single, personal QR code that would be uniform across the continent.

Last April, long before the first Covid vaccine appeared, the WHO was categorically opposed to what it termed an "immunity passport" because there was no evidence that those who'd already had Covid would be protected from another infection.

WHO executive director Dr. Michael Ryan said during a Monday Zoom media conference from Geneva that the organization didn't recommend a certificate of vaccination "because quite simply vaccination is just not available enough around the world and is not available certainly on an equitable basis. " Katherine O'Brien, WHO's director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, said that while WHO is "incredibly supportive of electronic vaccination certificates for a number of reasons" it was important to distinguish between the benefits of individual records and "this distinct issue around using it for the purpose of a requirement on travel. "

"It is an ethically fraught proposal given the deep disparities in which countries have access to Covid vaccines," Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security told me in an e-mail.

How about a little booth when you leave a vaccination center that would snap your photo, then instantly issue a card with your personal QR code that attests you've been "shot"?

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