Asked about the vaccination programme during a visit to a nursery in West London, Boris Johnson suggested that everyone must have been offered a jab before any immunity status certification system could come into force. The BBC reports:
He said no decisions had been made but there would be an update on the idea in April. A review will report in June.
There were “difficult issues… moral complexities, ethical problems that need to be addressed”, the PM added.
Any passport could also reflect a negative test result as well as whether someone was vaccinated or has immunity.
Good to know that Johnson is engaged in such hand-wringing over the ‘moral complexities’ of the matter.
“There are some people who for medical reasons can’t get a vaccination, pregnant women can’t get a vaccination at the moment, you’ve got to be careful about how you do this.
“You might only be able to implement a thorough-going vaccination passport scheme even if you wanted such a thing in the context of when absolutely everybody had been offered a vaccine.”
In the Commons, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who is leading the review, told MPs: “A system that relied purely on vaccination would not be appropriate.
“What would be right was a system that ensured we could open up our economy to the maximum extent that takes into account both vaccine status but also of recent test status and indeed potentially also antibody status as well,” he added.
It is the first time a Government figure has stated so concretely that the status could be based on antibody immunity because you’ve had and recovered from COVID-19. It is not clear, however, by what exact means this immunity might be proved if your antibodies have faded. Could, perhaps, a young person with innate T-cell cross-immunity demonstrate their resistance to the disease for the purposes of such a passport? If only those who have had a bad enough dose of Covid to develop detectable antibodies can prove it, then it could be those whose immune systems rebuffed the virus naturally with the greatest ease who find themselves consigned to endless tests for their ‘green’ status, should they not want to take the vaccine.
Bosses of major pub chains were reported not to be so keen on the idea, however:
The boss of Young’s pubs said requiring vaccine passports would be “unworkable”, while Greene King and the City Pub Group also voiced their opposition to any such measure.
The chief executive of the Shepherd Neame pub chain said asking pub-goers to show vaccine passports was a “fairly poorly thought out idea” he would not be adopting.
Jonathan Neame told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s absolutely fine to exclude people where there is a situation of bad behaviour or drunkenness, and that’s already enshrined in law.
“But if you’re going to exclude people for what they are, or what they have not done, that’s a wholly different issue which does touch on discrimination, civil liberties, and in this case data protection issues.”
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said the industry was “very nervous” about the “damage” such a measure could do to it and “the future of the Great British Pub”.
She told BBC News: “They’re asking us to enforce this at each venue and that’s impossible for some of our venues to do – particularly our smaller community pubs in rural locations.”
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: After we drew attention to the Government’s call for evidence to their review on ‘Covid-Status Certification’ yesterday, a reader sent us this:
Re your article today on Michael Gove’s Covid-Status Certification Review: the Parliamentary Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which recently wrote a damning report on the Government’s use of data and seem deeply suspicious of Mr Gove, has also published a call for evidence on the same subject.
They clearly want to make up their own minds on the subject.
This is run by a parliamentary committee separate to the Government’s own review, and interestingly, has a later deadline of May 3rd. It can be found here.