by UnHerd
Thursday, 18
March 2021

Debate: are vaccine passports necessary?

Kirsty Innes of the Tony Blair Institute and Silkie Carlo of Big Brother Watch offer their arguments
by UnHerd

Are vaccine passports the fastest way back to normality or do they bring us a step closer towards a dystopian checkpoint state?

On today’s LockdownTV, Freddie Sayers heard from both sides of the debate. Making the case for vaccine passports was Kirsty Innes, Head of Digital Government for the Tony Blair Institute, whose recent paper called for the implementation of what she called ‘digital health passports’. Innes argues that, by using a QR code on people’s phones that shows a tick or cross indicator, passports would make it easier to “manage the risk” of the virus in certain settings (pubs, stadiums, care homes etc).

This, according to Silkie Carlo, Director of Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties group, is “alarming”. She warned that this kind of discrimination between the vaccinated and unvaccinated would lead to a “segregated surveillance society” that takes a big step towards mandatory vaccines. Given that Britain has administered 25 million doses, mostly to its vulnerable population, that should be a reason to liberalise — not clamp down on — society.

So is testing a possible solution? Carlo argued that the example of mass testing in schools serves as a cautionary example. Infection rates are low and there is a 0.1% false positive rate with the lateral tests being used, which means that some schoolchildren are being unfairly excluded.

Innes insisted that her plan would be to integrate testing status with the health pass so that everybody can use them. In other words, if someone did not want to take a vaccine, they could get tested before going to an event or establishment to prove that they did not have the virus. This may be expensive, but Innes stressed that tests are going to be a feature of our lifetime and will only get cheaper and more accurate. Ultimately, it is a price we have to pay for lifting restrictions and getting out of lockdown.

The concept that vaccine passports were a “route out of” lockdown is a false one, said Carlo. It is the “narrative of authoritarianism” in which people are presented with a choice of living under house arrest or living on tag. She argued that this “authoritarian dream where the population are treated like cattle” is driven by ideological and commercial reasons. Under the guise of biometrics, companies try to sell ‘silver-bullet solutions’ that trick people into believing that more surveillance will make their lives easier, much like vaccine passports.

In spite of Innes’s claim that the passports would be temporary and regulated, Carlo pointed out that, if we have learnt anything from the 9/11 years, it should be to not make extreme and reactive policies that change the way that we live.

Carlo also argued that vaccine passports will have a negative psychological impact on the population too: if the passports are seen as a kind of freedom pass to live safely, that, if taken away, would be a major source of anxiety for the population.

“Having a tool available and putting it to use are two separate things” said Innes. Britain is a parliamentary democracy with strong liberal values and we as a society would not allow Government abuse these emergency measures. And as for daily life, Innes says that it won’t feel like anything more than a contactless payment and would only be restricted to certain environments.

But to Carlo’s mind, the passports’ seemingly innocent beginnings in certain environments would inevitably spill into other environments. In turn, this “health surveillance theatre ” would create a ratcheting effect across society.

So whose side are the great British public on? Innes quoted a study showing that only 20% of the population are opposed to health passes showing that there is broad acceptance of the idea. Carlo admitted that the past year has been a “rocky road” for liberties, but she maintained her faith in the rationalism of the public.

Innes conceded that, though she supports passports for children, she would propose implement them for babies. Meanwhile, Carlo says there is already an expectation for people in healthcare roles to take vaccines that does not need to be mandatory. Similarly people who are vulnerable to the virus and other diseases should be strongly expected.

Whether vaccine passports leave you with an uplifting vision of the post-pandemic world or a dystopian future, we hope you enjoyed the discussion and we thank Silkie and Kirsty for their time.

Join the discussion

  • Back in the day when I was naive enough to have it, I fell out with a gay tenor I knew on Facebook, because he supported a campaign to make sure employers knew everyone’s sexual whatever we are allowed to call them, these days, – instincts, inclinations, predilections. This was supposed to be a good idea because it would mean employers could give homosexuals equivalent time off to do their gay things as they allowed parents and weirdly, he argued, ‘pet owners’.

    Some people it seems have a narcissistic desire to be completely known to the state. They get off on the idea of ‘Big Brother’, surveillance is after all just another form of voyeurism as was demonstrated in ‘The Lives of Others’.

  • I have never owned a cell phone, I will not be GPS tagged and tracked. I have no electronics in my vehicles, what pictures I take is pre GPS camera, my phone is a computer generated home phone, I never am online with out a Panamanian (they do not keep any records, from their days as money launderers), Global based, VPN, my computer is erased every time I close a page, NONE of my passwords are kept, nor my favorites, nor anything of me, on my own computer. I clean my computer every time I close it. I live with aliases, even hold credit cards in those names, I am not on social media….. But then I have led a very weird life, one not one like you led, and so see a different reality to you all.

    I guess you can tell where I stand on vaccine passports. It all is a Plandemic anyway, just to get you turkeys to agree to become government property, and usher in the Great Reset.

  • Vaccine passports are ultimately irrelevant and useless. Vaccination does NOT guarantee that a vaccinated person would be unable to transmit the virus (assuming they were symptomatic). Both Pfizer and Moderna did NOT test transmissibility as a primary or secondary endpoint in their clinical trials, nor did they validate whether their test subjects infected others. You can verify this fact by reading the submissions from both pharmaceutical companies. Therefore, so-called “vaccination passports” are completely useless, and worse, they confer a false sense of security upon any population that accepts them. Additionally, “vaccination passports” also create separate classes of citizens that prejudice those individuals who can not or will not accept vaccinations.
    To date, there is NO clinical evidence that is robust enough to state that ANY vaccine can prevent transmission of COVID. ALL the data points to is that those who are fully (and properly) vaccinated, have a lower chance of becoming symptomatic! That’s it. Beyond that, they do not offer protection from severe illness or death.
    The only useful (and quick) method of verifying a person’s infectiousness is through rapid antigen testing. Our hopelessly inept governments and their health department “experts” (SAGE, NERVTAG et al) have repeatedly chosen the wrong strategies in managing this pandemic.
    Secondly, why would anyone choose to take a vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna or others) which has such a low level of efficacy (less than 1%)? The calculated Absolute Risk Reduction (ARR) is about 0.75% (for Pfizer) which is extremely poor. The media has been relentlessly publishing the mostly meaningless Relative Risk Reduction of 90-95%. Read through both Pfizer and Moderna’s submissions to the FDA or PHE and you can then calculate the Number Needed to Treat (NNT) The NNT is about 120, meaning that you will need to treat (vaccinate ) 120 patients in order to prevent one adverse outcome ( one case of Covid19). That’s unacceptably poor – for this vaccine or any therapeutic drug. Why expose 120 healthy people (so that 1 person may benefit) to a drug that has NOT been evaluated for long term adverse events?
    I’m quoting from the review in the British Medical Journal: “First, a relative risk reduction is being reported, not absolute risk reduction, which appears to be less than 1%. Second, these results refer to the trials’ primary endpoint of covid-19 of essentially any severity, and importantly NOT the vaccine’s ability to save lives, NOR the ability to prevent infection, nor the efficacy in important subgroups (e.g. frail elderly). Those still remain unknown”

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