Vaccine passports offer tool in return to normal

“It is the new status symbol,” wrote the New York Times.

If someone carries one around, he or she will be able to enter vaccination-exclusive shops, businesses, and even sports games. This card — or status symbol — instantly grants access to an almost pre-Covid life for a relatively affordable price: getting the coronavirus vaccination. Around the world, countries are creating their own Covid cards — forms of documentation proving that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19 — and passports and businesses are requiring customers to flash these cards before they can enter their facilities. And, while vaccination documents and certificates have existed long before the COVID era, they have never provided their owners such power and elite access to the economy until now. So, should countries around the world team up and globalize the Covid card in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus?

In Denmark, only those with a Coronapas, the country’s version of the Covid card, can sit inside restaurants. Similarly, to enter a hair salon, driving school, or sporting stadium, the Danish government requires people to have a Coronapas. However, the Coronapas is not intended just to be used within Denmark and is meant “to [also] be a way for travelers to show other countries that they have been vaccinated,” wrote the New York Times. Israel, Estonia, and New York all have their own versions of Covid cards that one is required to have to visit businesses and other enterprises’ facilities or to attend events.

However, the United States has not yet implemented a nationwide Covid card program. Instead, millions of Americans have simply received a flimsy piece of paper to document their vaccination. These papers vary in all different sizes and colors in each state and are “[not] typically designed to counter fraud,” wrote the New York Times. While the Covid card in Shanghai is stamped in red, the São Paulo Covid card has a green border.

While most countries are still in the process of developing their Covid card systems to “work on phones and counter fraud,” the European Union has big plans for a Europe-wide Covid card or document, called the Digital Green Certificate, wrote the New York Times. According to the European Union, the certificate will help “to facilitate safe free movement within the EU” and act as a way for one to provide “proof… [that they] have been vaccinated against COVID-19.” The European Union has plans to build a gateway to allow the documents to work in any of the Union’s member states. This system will allow European countries to work together better to stop the spread of the virus. It will also grant those with the certificate access to the economy and travel.

Throughout the pandemic, international commercial travel has stagnated, causing the American economy to suffer significant losses. However, the Digital Green Certificate poses an opportunity for travel and international commerce to begin once again. America could greatly benefit from working together with the European Union on a Covid card, as it would help to revitalize the economy. Moreover, implementing the Digital Green Certificate in America would allow Americans to return to their favorite activities: visiting movie theaters, eating out at restaurants, and attending sports games in stadiums.

Still, according to a writer of the organization Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, “vaccinated people could still be able to spread the virus and put others at risk.” Therefore, even if one has a Covid card, one should still wear a mask and physically distance. Dr. Mark Kortepeter, a biodefense expert at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, said that “taking your mask off too early is like playing Russian roulette.” In other words, it’s too early to know the full effect of the Covid-19 vaccines, and therefore everyone should play it safe by following public health guidelines.

While a global Covid passport could be beneficial, it’s unlikely that one will be made for a while. However, if one is created, it should not provide its owner the right to visit shops and attend events without a mask. Even vaccinated people should have to follow Covid health guidelines because the long-term effects of the virus are not yet known. For now, the American version of the Covid card will remain as an Instagram selfie and a free Krispy Kreme donut.