The Covid jab, immunity passports and the general vagueness of our government. Some humble musings on the subject.
Right, let’s get one thing straight, I am as sick of hearing, seeing, not smelling and not tasting all things Covid as much as the next person.
I have been imprisoned in my flat on several occasions, gone through a hideous breakup, been smited by the dreaded illness, depressed, not depressed, and worked throughout in the prison that is my back room for the best part of a year, without any joy to balance it out whatsoever, and UNPRECEDENTED amounts of rain. I’m sure many of you can agree, it’s been bangin’.
Like a lot of us, at this point, our mental health is starting to wane, that’s if it hasn’t already, and we are all longing for the day we can get on a plane and forget about this whole sorry mess for a moment or two. Well, I certainly am. But how easy is that going to be?
Passengers arriving into the UK back in January were faced with general chaos at Heathrow airport with long delays, social distancing rules nowhere to be seen and passengers being refused entry to flights for holding invalid Covid-19 certificates.
But, the UK is now one step closer to a digital Covid-19 immunity passport, after live testing of the technology was launched back in February. British Airways was the first airline in the UK to trial the ‘VeriFLY’ digital health app (one of a few), allowing customers to verify Covid-19 test certificates before they travel.
Even Boris Johnson has said vaccine passports for international travel, “will be a feature of our life in the future.” He also recognised that documents providing proof that someone has received a coronavirus jab “raise all sorts of issues.” For instance, how such a scheme might affect children or those “not medically able” to receive a vaccine. Then there’s the privacy issues, but don’t get me started.
But as always, it isn’t the UK leading the way here (as much as Boris and friends like to make out we are) with the PM citing at a Downing Street conference recently, “We’re looking at what they’re thinking of in other countries and we’ll be making sure we report back to everybody as soon as we possibly can.” So basically, we’re just going to wait and see what everyone else is doing.
And since we stuck two fingers up at the EU, when it announced its vaccine passport scheme, it very kindly said the scheme would be open to British travellers, although how well received we will be in certain parts of Europe post-Brexit is anybody’s guess.
Luckily, unlike us, the European Commission is on it, and on March 1, President of said Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Tweeted:
“We’ll present this month a legislative proposal for a digital green pass. The aim is to provide:
- Proof that a person has been vaccinated.
- Results of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet.
- Info on Covid-19 recovery.
It will respect data protection, security and privacy.” (Hmm.)
The UK will be examining said proposals in the hopes of reviving international travel this summer. And I fully understand the need for such digital passports, but what I was trying to find out, was will they be mandatory? You’d think so, given their purpose.
Of course, as I was looking into this, I was met with vague, vague and vaguer (yawn), until I stumbled across a quote from Mike Tansey, a managing director at Accenture.
Tansey, who leads Accenture’s APAC travel and hospitality division, has been working with some major airlines on their digital health pass strategies and says these plans have been “accelerated” since vaccine roll out began.
When asked if we would ‘need’ digital health passes to resume travel, he said, “The obvious answer is yes, we do.” And called any debate around the subject a “red herring”.
“Governments may not say that you have to have one, but the implications of not will be so ridiculous that travel won’t be worth it,” he said, referring to extensive testing and “draconian” quarantines.
So yeah, there you have it. Basically, these things aren’t mandatory, but they are, but they’re not, if you can get one, then do, if you can’t then don’t. Honestly, sometimes I fear my eyes will roll so far back into my head I might go blind.
This editorial originally appeared in the Data Centre Review Newsletter March 12, 2021. To ensure you receive these editorials direct to your inbox, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.