Coronavirus Immunity Passports ‘Likely to Be Possible’, Say UK Govt Science Advisers

STALYBRIDGE, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police Officers and security guards patrol outside Stalybridge Buffet Bar, situated on the platform at Stalybridge Train Station, which usually receives a large amount of custom from rail passengers heading into Manchester on July 04, 2020 in Stalybridge, England. The UK Government announced that Pubs, …
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A scientific group advising the British government has said that Chinese coronavirus immunity passports could be issued to those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from the virus.

While Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said earlier this month that there were no plans to introduce immunity passports, a newly-released paper has revealed that government scientists have said that such “immunity certification” is “likely to be possible”.

The report, entitled Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and the concept of an Immunity Certificate, was produced by the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and presented to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) on November 19th.

Made public on the government’s website on Friday, the report said that due to the improbability of catching the coronavirus a second time, people could receive a “Covid-19 immunity certification” that would grant them a greater degree of freedom than others in the rest of the country.

The report said: “As SARS-CoV-2 continues to circulate, we approach a time when a significant number of people who have been infected in early pandemic waves may have some ‘immunity’ that protects them during subsequent exposure.

“In addition, results from clinical trials of novel vaccines… suggest that a high degree of immunity to Covid-19 disease can be obtained, at least in the short-term.

“This new context leads us to re-examine the concept that those who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection or have been given an effective vaccine might be given, for a period, an exemption from current non-pharmaceutical interventions [eg, lockdown, social distancing] designed to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2.”

The report concluded: “Some form of Covid-19 immunity certification is likely to be possible but further data and considerations are needed before a recommendation can be made.”

There are increasing fears in the UK that even if the government does not make immunity passports mandatory by law, public venues and businesses may refuse service to those who have not been vaccinated or recovered from the virus.

On Monday, the recently installed vaccine minister, Nadim Zahawi, said that he believes businesses will require the certificate, saying: “I think you’ll probably find many service providers will want to engage in this in the way they did with the [Test and Trace] app.”

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove denied that this will be the case, however, saying on Tuesday that he does not believe that pubs, sports events, or other venues will require proof of immunity.

“I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports and I don’t know anyone else in government (who is),” Gove said.

The idea of immunity passports was first floated in April when Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the government was considering the implementation, even mooting the idea of  “immunity bracelets” at the time.

On Wednesday, Wales became the first British country to confirm that the government will be issuing immunity passports to those who receive the vaccination.

Announcing the measures, Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Those receiving a COVID-19 vaccination will be given a credit card-sized NHS Wales immunisation card which will have the vaccine name, date of immunisation and batch number of each of the doses given handwritten on them.”

In November, it was claimed that the British government was developing so-called “freedom passes” for everyday life activities, such as travelling without a mask and being able to see family members. The passes would be given to those who tested negative for the virus twice within a week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has also been said to be working on “vaccine stamps” for British passports in order to supposedly facilitate international travel.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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