Poland has become the latest country to roll out a “vaccine passport” that will give those vaccinated against the coronavirus the ability to exercise exclusive rights.
Polish deputy Health Minister Anna Goławska has stated that Poles who receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccination will receive a vaccine passport which will come in the form of a QR code through an electronic public health account – presumably a smart phone application.
The QR code “will be the so-called passport of the vaccinated person, which will confirm that the person has been vaccinated and can use the rights to which vaccinated people are entitled,” Goławska added.
As Euractiv notes:
The idea was included in Poland’s National Immunisation Program, adopted by the government in December, which stated that vaccinated people will be able to use public health services without additional testing, not be included in the measures for socialising and they also won’t have to quarantine after being in contact with a person infected with COVID-19.
While not specifically mentioned by the Polish Health minister, it will remain to be seen if the passport is needed for crossing borders while traveling. Considering it is called a “passport” – along with the adoption of such a document by other countries in recent months for the purpose of travel – points to it inevitably being needed to cross international borders at minimum.
The country had received its first shipment of the 2 dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in December.
Poland’s decision to issue the vaccine passport comes on the heels of reports that the United Kingdom is set to roll out a similar electronic document for trial in select areas of Britain.
The London Telegraph reported on Tuesday that biometrics firm iProov and cybersecurity firm Mvine have developed a vaccine passport which will be optionally provided as a smart phone app for Brits vaccinated against COVID-19.
Its roll out will take place in two jurisdictions and monitored by the government until March.
UK Public health officials say the passports will help monitor who has received the vaccine.
The Russian government began issuing vaccine passports to inoculated citizens at the start of the year for the purpose of traveling across domestic and international borders.
As we continue to highlight, the stage appears to be set for a vaccine passport standard to be rolled out worldwide as major players in the global travel industry have signaled that such a document will be an inevitable feature of the “new normal.”
In fact, Singapore Airlines in December became first major carrier to introduce a digital health certificate to verify passengers’ testing history and vaccination status.
EU leaders are demanding that the Commission should ‘standardise’ a vaccine passport across all member countries, and that it should be required for people to travel throughout the area.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has penned a letter to EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, outlining that “Persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel.”
The letter calls for a “standardised certificate, which will prove that a person has been successfully vaccinated.”
While it stops short at advocating mandatory vaccination, the letter further urges that “It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member states.”
Mitsotakis has pledged to raise the issue during an upcoming EU summit on January 21, declaring that “there is an urgent need for a high-level EU-wide mobilization to move things forward.”
Vaccine passports have previously been touted by the EU, with officials suggesting back in April that visa applicants would also be required to be vaccinated.
This week, it was also revealed that Denmark is the latest country to announce that it is rolling out a ‘Covid passport’, to allow those who have taken the vaccine to engage in society without any restrictions.
However, the EU’s data protection chief Wojciech Wiewiórowski recently labeled the idea of an immunity passport “extreme” and has repeatedly said it is alarming, and ‘disgusting’.
The spectre of so called ‘immunity passports’ is looming globally.
Having left the EU, Britain would not be part of any standardised European scheme, however it has now confirmed that it is rolling out vaccine passports, despite previous denials that it would do so.
Recently, the government in Ontario, Canada admitted that it is exploring ‘immunity passports’ in conjunction with restrictions on travel and access to social venues for the unvaccinated.
Last month, Israel announced that citizens who get the COVID-19 vaccine will be given ‘green passports’ that will enable them to attend venues and eat at restaurants.
Anna Beduschi, an academic from Exeter University, commented on the potential move toward vaccine passports by EU, noting that it “poses essential questions for the protection of data privacy and human rights.”
Beduschi added that the vaccine passports may “create a new distinction between individuals based on their health status, which can then be used to determine the degree of freedoms and rights they may enjoy.”
A report compiled last year by AI research body the Ada Lovelace Institute said so called ‘immunity’ passports “pose extremely high risks in terms of social cohesion, discrimination, exclusion and vulnerability.”
Sam Grant, campaign manager at the civili liberties advocacy group Liberty has warned that “any form of immunity passport risks creating a two-tier system in which some of us have access to freedoms and support while others are shut out.”
“These systems could result in people who don’t have immunity potentially being blocked from essential public services, work or housing – with the most marginalised among us hardest hit,” Grant further warned.
“This has wider implications too because any form of immunity passport could pave the way for a full ID system – an idea which has repeatedly been rejected as incompatible with building a rights-respecting society,” Grant further urged.
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