Vaccine passports could be 'unnecessarily divisive' says expert
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Specialists in healthcare law and policy last week warned the government about flaws in the new proposals aimed at helping society return to a pre-covid normality. The experts also warned Covid passports would discriminate against millions of younger adults who will not have had the opportunity to have received two doses of the jab by the beginning of the school summer holidays, ruling out any prospects of using the documents to travel abroad.
Oliver Dowden revealed the government is piloting different “covid certificates” as proof of vaccination or negative covid test status in order to allow groups to return to large gatherings such as festivals and sports events.
It was also suggested new vaccine passports – currently being reviewed by Michael Gove -could allow those vaccinated or testing negative to travel.
Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, a specialist in healthcare law and ethics at University College London, has addresssed civil servants about his concerns.
He said: “I don’t see how the vaccine certificates solve the problem that face us this summer. It sounds plausible until you do the detail. Parents will need to have been vaccinated by 23 April in order to be eligible for a passport in time for the school summer holidays starting on 23 July. Most parents wanting to take children away on school holidays will not be able to apply for a vaccine passport.
“Oliver Dowden‘s proposal also does not make sense in the context of large-scale sporting events because most people who go to football matches won’t have been vaccinated in time.
“The Reading Festival starts on the 27th of August but vaccinations for 20 year olds are not happening until late May.
“Unless ticket holders get their vaccine at the very front of the queue for their category they will be too late and that assumes everything goes smoothly in the vaccination programme.
“When the government does the maths this can’t be the solution.”
He added: “There is only a small window when this makes sense and once everyone is vaccinated why would you need to do a certificate?”
He dismissed the idea of using vaccine certificates as a means to encourage vaccine uptake.
He said: “I don’t think using vaccine passports or certificates as an incentive is useful because the more people feel coerced into doing something the more suspicious they may become. The focus should be on creating safe environments.”
Professor Robert Dingwall, an honorary member of the Faculty of Public Health said: “Using vaccine certificates this summer will accentuate potential inequalities if all older people can get free movement and those under 30 cannot until the schools go back in September.”
Under the current roadmap, from 17 May crowds of up to 10,000 in seated outdoor venues such as stadiums will be permitted, as well as up to 4,000 (or 50 percent capacity) people at a non-seated event.
Indoor events for up to 1,000 or 50 percent capacity (whichever is lower) will also be permitted.
It is hoped that all remaining restrictions on larger events will be lifted from 21 June.
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