Wed 06 March 2021:
There is not enough data to suggest whether vaccines prevent transmission of the coronavirus and whether the use of vaccine passports would be an effective strategy, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Tuesday.
In a UN news briefing, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said not everyone has access to vaccines in many countries.
Harris cited pregnant women or children under 18 or large numbers of people who are immunosuppressed.
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“And then of course there’s the lack of access to vaccines in many countries,” she said, adding: “We are still waiting on adequate supplies to provide the vaccines to all the countries that need them.”
Harris said that the equity issue is very important.
“And ultimately, of course, when we know more about whether or not it prevents transmission and when there’s greater equity, this is something that may well be important in the future,” she added.
As of April 5, the WHO said, more than 604 million vaccine doses have been administered, but overwhelmingly in developed countries.
The COVAX facility aimed at speeding up vaccines to nations in need has delivered 35 million doses to more than 78 countries.
What are the arguments favoring a vaccine passport?
Advocates say there are a few reasons. They could:
- Bring about a long-awaited return to “normal” life.
- Encourage people to get the shot, which would reduce COVID-19 transmission.
- Better protect front-line workers in the medical, travel, hospitality and service industries, and everyone else around you.
- Allow countries to fully reopen their economies.
The problem, though, is that these reasons aren’t perfectly in line. So, which will be the priority? That’s something we’ll have to decide.
What are the arguments against a vaccine passport?
There are a few critical ones here, as well.
- They could result in inequality and discrimination, not just for people in developing countries where the vaccine is less available, but also for young and healthy people in richer countries who may not get their shots for months.
- It would also be unfair for communities who are less trustful of vaccines and those who decline the vaccine for religious or cultural reasons.
- Privacy advocates are concerned about the security of apps that will hold private and critical information about a user’s health. It would be just another app loaded with personal data that could be vulnerable to hacking or misuse. Many app developers counter that they’re securing the apps through , which means the data wouldn’t be stored in one place.
- As the vaccine doesn’t bring total immunity, it could bring a false sense of security and lead to risky behavior and the rise of new COVID-19 variants.
- If used for everyday activities, it may lead to coercion of vaccines.
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