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Britain cancels vaccine passport plans for now

After months of cries of tyranny and discrimination sparked by speculation that Britain would require vaccine passports to enter crowded places like shops and nightclubs, authorities said on Sunday that such plans had been scrapped, At least for the moment.

Sajid Javid, UK Health Secretary, said passports – in essence, the documentation proving vaccination against Covid-19 – was still “a potential option” for the future. “This should be considered in combination with other measures,” he told the BBC on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to discuss the decision to drop the passport idea on Tuesday, and a government statement said he would also address the likelihood that Covid booster injections will be deployed soon and warn of “renewed challenges “coming this winter as the flu season threatens to increase pressure on the nation’s health system.

After capping new cases this spring, UK authorities lifted their last lockdown restrictions in July. But the country is now grappling with a late-summer wave, fueled by the Delta variant, and the seven-day average of new cases hit more than 36,000 on Saturday, a level not seen since after Christmas, data shows. from the British government. Two-thirds of the country is fully vaccinated.

British lawmakers began suggesting in the spring that the government could demand passports, drawing fire from critics who said the move would risk widening already dangerous social gaps between those who can access the vaccine and those who cannot. not.

Around the world, the idea of ​​establishing passports – also known as health passes or digital health certificates – has been discussed as a tool to restart economies and empower hundreds of millions of people vaccinated. to return to a certain degree of normality. Some versions may allow holders to travel abroad or allow entry into vaccine spaces such as gymnasiums, concert halls and restaurants.

But incorporating those credentials could also usher in an era of heightened digital surveillance, according to privacy experts, noting that they could allow location tracking and that there are few rules on how. whose digital data on people’s vaccines need to be stored or shared.

The Biden administration has made it clear that it will neither issue nor require the passports. In France, thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest the government’s new health pass law, which bans people without proof of vaccination or a recent negative test from many indoor sites. The Scottish Parliament voted last week to introduce a vaccination passport system from 1 October. Italians have widely adopted the so-called green pass, which was put in place in early August.