Vaccine Passports

American Universities Order Students to Take Covid Vaccine before Returning to Classes

A number of American universities have announced that they will require their staff and students to be vaccinated against Covid before being permitted to return to campuses this autumn. MailOnline has the story.

Several state university systems will require all students returning to classes and campuses this fall to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

A number of state and public institutions have made the announcement in the past week as they hope to get back to normal campus life after months of online learning.

Similar measures have been announced by some private institutions, but with the policy of requiring Covid vaccinations expanding into state and public school systems, the number of universities with the requirement has risen significantly.

Some private universities – including Brown, Cornell and Stanford – have announced similar requirements, and will be joined by California’s two state university systems, as well as several universities in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey.

Thursday’s joint announcement from the 10-campus University of California and the 23-campus California State University represented the largest of its kind in American higher education…

Including private universities, at least 80 have announced their intention to make vaccines mandatory to their students in order for them to return to campus, according to a count by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

But others have said outright that they will not require their students to be vaccinated. Republican Governors in Utah, Texas, Florida and Montana have signed orders banning institutions from requiring vaccines. 

According to Forbes, it is currently unclear how state executive orders banning Covid vaccine passports – such as that recently signed in Texas – will affect universities wishing to force their students to get vaccinated. Should the bans on unvaccinated students go ahead, it is expected that some exemptions “based on sincerely held religious views and medical conditions” will apply. Forbes has published a list of institutions that have said they will require staff and students to be vaccinated before they reopen.

MailOnline‘s report is worth reading in full.

Why Has the NHS COVID-19 App Not Been Withdrawn?

What follows is a guest post by our technology correspondent.

Grant Schapps has been doing the media rounds today announcing that the NHS App is going to be the vehicle for vaccine passports, as I predicted on this site last month. That is going to cause huge problems. What we did not hear in those media interviews were any questions asking when its sister app, the NHS Test and Trace app, is going to be withdrawn. Why would they ask that? Well, because Matt Hancock said that is what he would do.

He could not have been clearer about it. In a letter to Harriet Harman’s Joint Committee on Human Rights on May 4th 2020 he wrote: “We intend to withdraw the app once the epidemic is over and it is no longer required.”

Is the pandemic over? Sarah Walker, Chief Investigator on the Office for National Statistics COVID-19 Infection Survey and Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology at Oxford, says so. The Telegraph reported her saying: “Britain has moved from a pandemic to an endemic situation.” That was on April 23rd so plenty of time for Matt Hancock to have gone onto the app store and withdrawn his app.

Why the delay, Matt?

The EU’s Vaccine Passport Scheme Could Destroy Peace in Northern Ireland

Today, the European Parliament will vote on the introduction of vaccine passports within the EU, known as Digital Green Certificates. Ciarán McCollum, a barrister and linguist from Northern Ireland who advises on matters of European law, has written a piece for Lockdown Sceptics expressing his concern that this scheme will destroy the fragile peace in Northern Ireland. Here’s an extract:

The proposed regulation will cost Europe dearly. There are the financial implications of a universal border control regime which involves the constant handling of that most sensitive of data types: medical records. There is the loss of ideals intrinsic to European democracy. But more pertinently for me, there is the situation in Northern Ireland.

The Explanatory Memorandum calls freedom of movement one of the EU’s “most cherished achievements” and a “driver of its economy”. It is also a driver of peace in my home. The Northern Irish remain citizens of Europe without the Union, and will not accept being checked upon entry into what about a million of them consider their home: the neighbouring Member State of Ireland. The prospect of violence is terrible.

Despite these risks and contrary to the recently introduced Better Regulation Rules, the DGC controls are being rushed through with nary a cost-benefit analysis, impact assessment or public consultation and with limited parliamentary debate. Why? Well, in the words of the Head of the Commision’s Covid Taskforce, Thierry Breton, when speaking to RTL in March, so that Europeans can once again “enter a public place” and “live without being a risk to each other”. Could Mr Breton really mean to suggest that there ever was, or ever can be, life without risk? Has the Parisian gentleman, when crossing his home city by car for example, ever encountered the 4-lane 12-exit roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe?

Worth reading in full.

NHS Mobile App Will Be Used as Covid Vaccine Passport for International Travel

The NHS mobile app, through which people currently book GP appointments, will be used as a Covid vaccine passport when international travel returns. The date of return remains uncertain: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said we must “wait and see” if May 17th continues to be viable. The Guardian has the story.

International travellers will be asked to demonstrate their Covid vaccination and testing status using the NHS smartphone app, the U.K. Government has confirmed, as the Transport Secretary promised to release a list of possible holiday destinations within a fortnight.

Grant Shapps said work had started on developing the app many people use to book appointments with their GPs so that it can show whether they have been vaccinated and tested for the virus.

But he was coy about when people would be able to start travelling abroad for holidays in interviews on Wednesday morning, saying the public would have to “wait and see” when they could go to some of the most popular foreign holiday destinations.

“Spain specifically, I’m afraid I just don’t have the answer to that because the Joint Biosecurity Centre will need to come up with their assessment and we can’t do that until a bit nearer the time,” he told Times Radio.

Speaking to Sky News, Shapps said he would be able to announce within a fortnight which countries people would be able to visit without needing to quarantine when they returned and added that domestic coronavirus statistics were on track for the Government to enable the resumption of foreign holidays next month.

“I have to say that so far the data does continue to look good from a U.K. perspective, notwithstanding those concerns about where people might be travelling to and making sure we’re protected from the disease being reimported.”

He added: “We do need to make sure that we do this very, very carefully… But, in the next couple of weeks, I’ll come back on and I’ll be able to tell you about which countries will have made it into the traffic light system – and that green list in particular.”

He said the green list would include the “countries where you’ll be able to go to, without needing to quarantine on your return, you will still need to take a pre-departure test, and one test on your return”.

Further doubt was cast on our ability to resume travel on May 17th last week when it was reported that the Foreign Office could refuse to sanction travel to countries on the Government’s “green” and “amber” lists since its travel advice is published independently of the “traffic light” system.

The Guardian’s report is worth reading in full.

Bars and Nightclubs to Reopen in Hong Kong – But Only For Those Who Have Been Vaccinated Against Covid

Hong Kong is moving ahead with a vaccine passport scheme under which only those who have been vaccinated against Covid and who use a Government mobile phone app will be able to go to bars and nightclubs when they reopen on Thursday. All staff will also be required to have received at least one dose of a vaccine. The scheme will, according to a Government official, enable life in Hong Kong to “return to normal” – despite breaking from all that has previously been considered “normal”. Reuters has the story.

Hong Kong will reopen bars and nightclubs from April 29th for people who have been vaccinated and who use a Government mobile phone application, the Asian financial hub’s Health Secretary said on Tuesday.

Sophia Chan told a press briefing the measures extended to bathhouses and karaoke lounges and would enable the venues to stay open until 2 am. All staff and customers must have received at least one vaccine dose for the venue to be operational and they must operate at half capacity, she said.

“We all hope life can return to normal but we need to allow some time for everyone to adapt to these new measures,” Chan said.

The former British colony has recorded over 11,700 total coronavirus cases, far lower than other developed cities…

Chan’s announcement comes as authorities try to incentivise residents to get vaccinated with only around 11% of the city’s 7.5 million population having received their first vaccine dose.

The take up of vaccines has been sluggish since the scheme began in the Chinese special administrative region in February due to a lack of confidence in China’s Sinovac vaccine and fears of adverse reactions.

Hong Kong began vaccinating residents with doses from Sinovac in February and started offering a vaccine developed by Germany’s BioNTech in March.

Under the new scheme, restaurant-goers who have not been vaccinated will have to sit in designated areas, away from those who have received a vaccine.

Restaurants will set up different areas for customers who are not vaccinated and for those who choose to write their contact details down on paper rather than registering with the government app. This segment will only be allowed to dine up to four people to a table [whereas the “vaccinated zone” will be permitted to dine up to six customers per table].

Worth reading in full.

Thousands of People “Unite for Freedom” in London

Thousands of people gathered in London today in opposition to lockdown and to the idea of vaccine passports. Banners held by those in the “Unite for Freedom” protest read “no new normal”, “no health passport” and much more. Footage from the march gives an idea of the sheer number of people who attended.

The Mail has more.

TV presenter Beverly Turner has joined thousands of activists marching through central London in a “Unite for Freedom” protest to demand a ban on vaccine passports.

Demonstrators, also including London Mayor candidates Piers Corbyn and Laurence Fox, made their way through the capital earlier today as they waved banners and placards daubed with a range of slogans including “no new normal” and “no health passport”.

The crowds did not appear to be adhering to social distancing guidelines and were not wearing face masks.

The protest comes amid discussions over “Covid-status certificates” being considered by ministers… despite concerns from Boris Johnson’s own MPs that they will be “intrusive, costly and unnecessary”. 

Earlier this month, Britain’s equalities watchdog warned the Government that vaccine passports could be unlawful, create a “two-tier society” and discriminate against migrants, ethnic minorities and the poor.

The supporters of the movement are protesting against new Covid measures including what they call “coerced vaccinations”…

The Metropolitan Police took to Twitter earlier in the day with a series of posts that read: “We have a policing operation in central London today as a result of a number of demonstrations. 

“Anyone coming into London for a protest must make sure their gathering is lawful, with a risk assessment carried out by the organiser…

“Officers are on site and are engaging with those taking part.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Hector Drummond has questioned the lack of media coverage of the protest in London, accusing the BBC of “blatant politicisation”.

MEPs Served With Notices of Liability Ahead of Vaccine Passport Vote

There follows a guest post by Oliver May, a staff journalist at a national newspaper group writing under a pseudonym.

MEMBERS of the European Parliament have been told they may be held liable for harm and death caused by the introduction of a Covid certification scheme.

Doctors for Covid Ethics, a group of doctors, scientists and lawyers from around the world, have served MEPs with Notices of Liability advising them that they may be held personally liable should they vote for the implementation of a Digital Green Certificate in the European Parliament next Wednesday.

Many fear vaccine passports will create a two-tier society, with only those able to certify that they’re un-infectious, whether because they’ve been vaccinated, recently tested or have recovered from COVID-19, being allowed to enjoy the freedoms they once had. Some lawyers have expressed concern that this is a form of coercion.

The COVID-19 vaccines are available under an Emergency Use Authorisation and, despite Governments insisting they are “safe and effective”, Doctors for Covid Ethics have expressed concern that the’ve been approved too quickly and the risks associated with being vaccinated for those under-60 with no underlying health conditions may be greater than the risk posed by SARS-CoV-2.

However, any implementation of a Digital Green Certificate scheme means those who have not had a Covid vaccine, and cannot otherwise certify that they’re un-infectious, could be discriminated against and kept out of “normal” society.

Israel has introduced a Green Pass system, which opens up society to everyone who has been vaccinated. Earlier this week, Michael Gove, together with England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam, travelled there to study the Green Pass and discuss its effectiveness with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

Gove has repeatedly said the UK Government has “no plans” to introduce vaccine passports, as has Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi. But the UK Government has moved the goalposts over the past few months and, as reported in Lockdown Sceptics on April 20th, multiple jobs are now being advertised in London and Leeds in connection with vaccine passports, with NHSX [the tech arm of the NHS], saying they are: “Developing both digital and non-digital options to enable U.K. residents to assert their Covid status, including both vaccination history and test results.” The advert says applicants must be able “to start with us by Tuesday, May 4th, 2021”.

The European Union believes its version of the vaccine passport will facilitate safe, free movement within the bloc, adding that it is “non-discriminatory”, despite discriminating against those who cannot prove they’re un-infectious.

On March 25th, the European Parliament voted to fast-track the Digital Green Certificate via an emergency procedure by 468 votes to 203, with 16 MEPs abstaining.

Philippe Lamberts, leader of the Greens–European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, warned that the speeding up process could create “considerable distrust” among European citizens. That sentiment was echoed by Liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, who said that skipping the committee-level process was an “abuse of an emergency situation”.

The notice of liability issued to MEPs by Doctors for Covid Ethics reads as follows:

This Notice of Liability has been SERVED to you personally.

You may be held personally liable for harm and death caused by implementation of the proposal identified as REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on a framework for the issuance, verification and acceptance of interoperable certificates on vaccination, testing and recovery to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic (Digital Green Certificate), Brussels, 17.3.2021 COM (2021) 130 final 2021/0068 (COD), which is designed to coerce widespread acceptance of experimental vaccination.

If you take further action supporting such implementation, and if you take no steps to mitigate your past actions supporting such implementation, you may be held personally liable for resulting harm and death…

Furthermore, you may be held personally responsible for supporting CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, defined as acts that are purposely committed as part of a widespread or systematic policy, directed against civilians, committed in furtherance of state policy.

Please respond to this NOTICE OF LIABILITY within 14 days from the DATE OF SERVICE to: DOCTORS FOR COVID ETHICS

The full letter and a list of its recipients can be found here.

Covid Passports Proving Vaccine Status Will be Introduced in Time for the Return of Overseas Travel

The Government has contacted travel industry figures to say that Covid passports will be introduced in time for the return of overseas travel. The passport will feature a traveler’s “vaccine status”, granting those who have been vaccinated entry into countries which demand evidence of such information. The Telegraph has the story.

Covid passports will be made available to prove people have been vaccinated as early as next month, in time for summer holidays, the travel industry has been told.

The Department for Transport wants an official certification scheme that gives British travellers a document they can show at borders overseas in place by May 17th.

In a separate development, a European medical agency recommended that fully vaccinated travellers should be able to sidestep tests and quarantine.

It potentially smooths the path for holidays to more than 20 countries that have indicated they could ask travellers for proof of vaccination, such as Israel, Croatia, Turkey, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus.

Greece has moved to reopen its tourism industry by dropping quarantine rules for travellers from more than 30 nations if they have been vaccinated or tested negative for Covid.

The Covid vaccine certificate could come in either digital or physical form, with Government officials exploring the best way to make it work in the tight time frame.

Critically, the proof of having received a Covid jab would be certified by UK Government, meaning it would be accepted by countries demanding evidence before entry.

The topic of Covid passports was discussed in a call between Government officials and travel industry figures held on Wednesday. A Government official is reported to have said:

We aim to give people the ability to prove their vaccine status by the time international travel restarts where other countries require it. The earliest that will restart is May 17th.

Border officials said this week that around 100 fake Covid test certificates are found every day at the U.K. border. Whether or not Covid passports will be as easy to forge as officials say test certificates are, there is no doubt that some fakes will flow through the system.

The Telegraph’s report is worth reading in full.

Civil Service Job Advert Confirms Covid Passports Are In Development

Michael Gove is visiting Israel to review its ‘green pass’ scheme as part of his ongoing review into Covid passports – but new civil service job ads suggest that the introduction of ‘Covid Status Certificates’ (both digital or non-digital) is already underway. Guido Fawkes has the story.

Multiple jobs have now come up in both London and Leeds with NHSX [the tech arm of the NHS], which spells out they are: “Developing both digital and non-digital options to enable U.K. residents to assert their Covid status, including both vaccination history and test results.”

The ad also confirms a rapid timetable, given applicants must be able “to start with us by Tuesday, May 4th, 2021“. The consultation document released by the Government a fortnight ago merely said they had “committed to explore whether and how Covid-status certification might be used to reopen our economy”. Sounds like the “exploring” is over…

It doesn’t take an incredible memory to remember back to February when [Vaccine Minister] Nadhim Zahawi was confidently telling Andrew Marr Covid passports would be “discriminatory”.

In a recent article for the Telegraph – in which he asked readers to give their thoughts on Covid passports and received some great (though not, for him, agreeable) responses – Gove praised Israel’s ‘green pass’ scheme and considered whether something similar could be introduced here.

In Israel, which is one of the few countries to have vaccinated a higher percentage of the population than we have in the U.K., they have been using a ‘green pass’ to get back to normal more quickly. This green pass system allows citizens who’ve been vaccinated, recently recovered from the virus or who’ve had a recent negative test to congregate in venues which had been closed for months such as theatres and nightclubs…

If we do accept that Covid certification is going to be required to travel abroad, the question then follows can these certificates help in other ways? If Israel can accelerate its citizens’ returns to nightclubs, football stadia and theatres with these certificates, might we?

The Guido Fawkes report is worth reading in full.

Young People Should Not be Strong-Armed Into Getting Vaccinated

We’re publishing an original piece today by Bella Wallersteiner, a Senior Parliamentary Assistant, setting out the case against trying to induce young people to get the jab by making entry to pubs/clubs/festivals conditional on showing a ‘Covid Status Certificate’. Here is an extract:

After a year in which many young people have lost their jobs, missed out great chunks of the curriculum in schools and universities and were forbidden from seeing their friends, coercing them into taking the jab is a perverse strategy. Altruistic young people worked in food banks, collected medicine and went shopping for elderly neighbours who were shielding or, inspired by the example of Captain Tom Moore, raised funds for the NHS. Instead of receiving praise for demonstrating resilience and kindness, young people are now being maligned for showing ambivalence in coming forward to take a vaccine which may do them harm. More needs to be done to convince them that the vaccine is safe and effective and that the eradication of COVID-19 requires all citizens to join together in an act of solidarity.

Once vaccines for under-30s get the green light, the Government needs to come up with a new social contract for young people. What is the duty of a young person to society? Does a young adult have a moral obligation to protect an older one? The message should be that society is the glue which binds us together in a moral compact which transcends self-interest. By getting the vaccine you are helping the community at large. Young people should want to take the vaccine because they have decided that it is the right thing to do for their own health and for the safety of others. They should not be bullied into taking the vaccine out of fear of becoming second-class citizens or because they will be denied the pleasures of techno, house and trance dance music in clubs. The Government must treat young people like grown-ups and be prepared to have an adult conversation with them. The Prime Minister, who is such an effective communicator, particularly when addressing young people, should deliver a special broadcast specifically targeting UK citizens under 30 who have given up so much over the last year. He should thank them for their solidarity and support and exhort them to make one final collective effort to beat COVID-19 by having the vaccine. If this doesn’t happen, the whole project to eradicate the scourge of coronavirus could stumble at the last fence.

Worth reading in full.