Loading articles...

WHO doesn't support COVID-19 vaccine passports

Last Updated Apr 6, 2021 at 6:08 am PDT

Syringes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sit in a tray in a vaccination room at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Summary

The subject of vaccine passports amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been controversial

Some argue vaccine passports can help us get back to certain activities safely without creating superspreader events

There are concerns around vaccine passports and equity, and how they could alienate certain groups of people

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With it still not clear whether inoculations prevent the spread of COVID-19, the World Health Organization says it does not support vaccine passports for now.

On the face of it, vaccine passports offer a way for us to return to things like travel or concerts without the fear of causing superspreader events.

However, the idea has been controversial, raising many questions about basic rights.

While the WHO’s primary reason for not supporting these passports right now is that we still don’t know if vaccines prevent transmission, the organization’s Margaret Harris is quoted by Reuters to say they also highlight concerns about equity.

“We as WHO are saying at this stage we would not like to see the vaccination passport as a requirement for entry or exit because we are not certain at this stage that the vaccine prevents transmission,” Harris said Tuesday. “There are all those other questions, apart from the question of discrimination against the people who are not able to have the vaccine for one reason or another.”

The debate on this issue is in full flight in the U.K., but here, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has shown little appetite for the idea.

Earlier this year, Trudeau said he was not considering the idea of a vaccine passport for Canada.

In an interview with Reuters, the prime minister said there could be a number of reasons why someone would not get a vaccine.

“I’m worried about creating knock-on, undesirable effects in our community,” he said in January. “The indications that the vast majority of Canadians are looking to get vaccinated will get us to a good place without having to take more extreme measures that could have real divisive impacts on community and country.”

Related video: Will vaccine passports be required for travel?

As of the beginning of April, more than 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Canada.

Efforts continue to ramp up, with millions more doses being delivered each week.

In B.C., there appears to be some support for the idea of a vaccine passport, with a recent poll suggesting 73 per cent of British Columbians endorse proof of vaccination certificates for international travel.

Sixty-two per cent of respondents in that Research Co. poll, findings of which were released at the end of March, said vaccine passports could also be used for other specific activities during the pandemic, such as going to see a movie.