Vaccine Passports: Public Health Tool, Or Invasion Of Civil Liberties?

Mar 9, 2021

Vaccine passports. They give those vaccinated against COVID-19 access to places the unvaccinated can’t get into — gyms, bars, schools. It’s a tool for public health in a pandemic, and a tool to curb civil liberties. Can the two be balanced?


Nita Farahany, professor of law and philosophy at Duke University. Director of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. (@NitaFarahany)

Ruth Faden, professor of bioethics. Founder of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. (@fadenethx)

From The Reading List

New York Times: “Vaccine Passports, Covid’s Next Political Flash Point” — “The next major flash point over coronavirus response has already provoked cries of tyranny and discrimination in Britain, protests in Denmark, digital disinformation in the United States and geopolitical skirmishing within the European Union.”

Wall Street Journal: “Covid-19 Vaccine ‘Passports’ Raise Ethics Concerns, Logistical Hurdles” — “As vaccine rollouts gain momentum, governments world-wide are looking at ways for people to prove they are inoculated against the coronavirus, raising logistical and ethical concerns about whether others will be excluded from daily life.”

Technology Review: “Vaccine passports could erode trust” — “Experts are debating the pros and cons of covid-19 vaccine passports or other types of certification as they attempt to begin reopening public spaces. The idea seems simple on its face: those who can prove they’ve been vaccinated for covid-19 would be able to go places and do things that unvaccinated people would not.” “What is the Excelsior Pass? How NY’s Covid app will be a passport for attending events” — “Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a pilot program for the Excelsior Pass, developed in partnership with IBM, that will work as a passport for attending events in the Covid-19 era.”

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