As the COVID-19 vaccines roll out nationwide, “immunity passports” must be implemented to track who has been vaccinated and is therefore allowed to travel, according to the former head of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a Washington Post op-ed entitled, “How to reopen the economy safely? Immunity passports“, former CDC Director Tom Frieden and public health lawyer Aaron Schwid claimed Sunday that immunity passports for vaccinated citizens are the only way to safely lift the stifling COVID lockdowns.
“These passports would serve as a form of proof of immunity, allowing people who have immunity to engage in some activities others cannot,” Frieden and Schwid wrote. “That could make it possible to ratchet down protective measures, such as stay-at-home orders and business closures, without increasing health risks.”
Frieden, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, explained how immunity passports would be used to determine who is allowed freedom of movement and who is not based on whether they’ve taken the COVID-19 vaccine, despite the fact it’s not “known how long immunity will last or whether vaccinated people can spread the virus.”
“We need practical and universal standards to verify who has been vaccinated,” Frieden and Schwid wrote, adding that a digital immunity passport would prevent fraud, loss, or theft of vaccination proof despite privacy concerns.
Frieden and Schwid then suggest that freedom of movement will be restricted for those who refrain from getting vaccinated
“As vaccination is rolled out and we learn more about immunity after natural infection, providing the option of an immunity passport to those who choose to receive one can increase freedom of movement for passport holders and accelerate broader social and economic recovery,” they wrote.
“As universal vaccination becomes available, passports will help everyone, not just the lucky few, move from fear to freedom,” they added.
The World Economic Forum and IBM are already hard at work developing these so-called “immunity passports.”
“IBM developed its own app, called Digital Health Pass, which allows companies and venues to customize indicators they would require for entry including coronavirus tests, temperature checks and vaccination records. Credentials corresponding to those indicators are then stored in a mobile wallet,” CNN reported Sunday.
IBM stated that user privacy was its top concern in developing its Digital Health Pass.
“Trust and transparency remain paramount when developing a platform like a digital health passport, or any solution that handles sensitive personal information,” IBM said in a blog post. “Putting privacy first is an important priority for managing and analyzing data in response to these complex times.”