An impact assessment conducted by the British government has reportedly found that rather than slowing the spread of the Wuhan virus, vaccine passports may serve to increase its transmission.
A review from Britain’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is said to have warned that vaccine passports will increase the spread of the coronavirus by giving people a false sense of confidence that will encourage them to go to tightly-packed indoor spaces.
The document, seen by The Telegraph newspaper, stated that there could be a “potential displacement” effect in which the use of vaccine passports sees people opt for smaller venues such as pubs with live music instead of larger music venues, creating a “potentially counter-productive” impact.
“Similarly, if certification displaces some fans from structured and well-ventilated sports stadia, this could lead to them attending unstructured and poorly ventilated pubs instead, where they will have access to more alcohol than if there were in the stadia. Evidence from the Euros showed spikes in cases associated with pubs even when England were playing abroad,” the assessment said.
“Although the impact would not be positive for all consumer segments, overall the evidence indicates that vaccine proof would be a trigger for tempting many from the more cautious segments to return to indoor attractions and there is also growing support among those who have already returned to visiting — now outweighing those who would be alienated,” the government document added.
The government report seemingly backs up concerns raised from prominent lockdown sceptics, including from former Brexit secretary David Davis MP, who has argued that, because the vaccinated can still spread the Chinese virus, vaccine passports may actually increase cases as people take fewer precautions under the assumption that health passes will create COVID-free areas.
Mr Davis outlined his concerns during a panel discussion hosted by the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch last month. His speech — which he claimed was “carefully researched, wholly accurate and backed up with the latest scientific evidence” — was later censored by YouTube.
Last month, the government outlined its so-called “Plan B” vaccine passport plan for the winter months, if the country’s socialised healthcare system is overrun by the Wuhan virus.
The plan would implement the long-mooted health pass system, which has hitherto been voluntary in England — though the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales have both introduces vaccine passports.
During the first weekend of enforcement in Scotland, hospitality leaders described it as an “unmitigated disaster”, with some venues seeing declines of up to forty per cent in foot traffic.
Under the proposed scheme for England, only those who have had at least two doses of a vaccine would be eligible to apply for the passport, cutting out those who have recovered from the virus or have proof of a negative test result.
A DCMS spokesman said: “There is currently no evidence to suggest that businesses have been impacted by lower attendance when certification is used, with various venues already using this on entry throughout the year.
“Plan B is as published in the autumn and winter plan and this document does not represent government policy. We have been clear throughout that we would only implement Plan B if evidence suggested the NHS was going to come under unsustainable pressure.”
Another leaked set of government documents obtained by POLITICO say that the Plan B scenario could cost up to £18 billion to the British economy if it lasts until March, averaging £800 million in losses per week.
The analysis found that vaccine passports could reduce transmission of the virus by 40-45 per cent at the public venues, yet as this represents such a small portion of community transmission, the impact would only reduce overall spread by one to five per cent.
The health pass scheme would have a “high impact” on the economy, however, with the report noting that it could have wider ramifications, including on the already weakened supply chain.
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