Scores of plans to verify immunity are in the works. But there are even more questions about how they’ll use data, protect privacy—and who gets certified first.
SOMETIME SOON, YOU might arrive at an airport or a stadium or a restaurant, open an app or flash a card, and be admitted to a place or experience that was denied you during the pandemic. You will have just deployed a vaccine passport, a certification of either vaccination status or immunity following a natural infection that confirms you no longer pose a risk to others.
For some, the deep concern about mandatory identity papers elicits feelings of deep dread. After all, for some, it is in direct living memory. or at least in the stories of parents and grandparents, the use of such things as tools of subjugation and persecution. For the rest of us who may support, or even feel comforted by, such measures, privacy questions should remain. This story is very US’centric and isn’t human research ethics, but we felt the issues relevant and worth sharing. We have added links to four related items.
But soon is nowhere in reach for the low- and middle-income countries that have received only a small number of vaccines or haven’t been able to begin their vaccination campaigns. Which means the arrival of vaccine passports could let affluent societies reach the far side of the pandemic while poor ones are still waiting to be protected from it, reinforcing the economic divides that the pandemic made so evident.