It is quite clear that governments around the world are going to mandate vaccine passports for certain purposes in coming months and to enable businesses to do likewise. The technology has already been released from the Commonwealth for incorporation into Apple Wallet and Google Pay and it is likely that state governments will probably soon implement their own into their respective service apps.
I am not going to go into the pros and cons of vaccine passports here. They are coming, regardless.
At the same time, our personal and national interests are best served by as many people being vaccinated as soon as possible, with whatever vaccine type they can get hold of. Despite mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the current vaccines on offer provide considerable protection against infection and transmission and far more protection against severe illness in the event that covid-19 develops following exposure.
If, having been vaccinated and later exposed to Delta, a subsequent “zombie” mutation (with up to 30% mortality predicted as a possibility by the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) will likely be susceptible to some degree of cross-immunity from earlier vaccination and prior infection. Many people, having been exposed to Delta, will have been exposed to all 57-odd binding sites on the current virus as well as the surface protein (and not likely be very ill, being vaccinated). So if you have not been vaccinated already, get vaccinated as soon as possible.
I repeat: get thou vaccinated.
I was vaccinated with Pfizer last March. I caught SARS-CoV-2 at work mid-July, isolated immediately, and developed symptomatic covid-19 three days later. I got sick with it but I did not need hospitalisation (I was quite knocked about for the first 3 days). I am 48 next month and have no underlying conditions, am slim, don’t smoke and am relatively fit. But I dread to think how much sicker I would have been had I not been vaccinated at my age. I have recovered completely and have been released from isolation.
What I will say is that any government anywhere that intends to be re-elected at a minimum in most countries — and avoid outright revolt in others — will need to develop and publish clear guidelines for the eventual dismantling of such a system and associated forms of digital ID cards in the near future. I do understand that Milton Freedman said “There is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program”, but I believe that there are enough people in our governments to overcome that temptation to power. Time will tell if that is naïve.
There are various ways in which people will not stand for a CCP-style social credit system or other demands to show papers/pixels. We have managed very well thus far without it.
Some countries have more tangible ways of expressing that resistance than others. Australia’s history is peaceful in that respect, thankfully. We express our opinions at the ballot box. I cannot say the same for the USA any longer. New Hampshire has already made it illegal for a business to discriminate on the basis of vaccination status, for example.
But once this pandemic has burned out — as they always have — dismantle it they must.
We must start that conversation now.
This is why we are better than communist China. It is how our governments maintained trust throughout the Cold War — by demonstrating the moral authority that we correctly attributed to our governments, compared with the Soviet Union and Mao Zedong and his heirs.
It isn’t just about showing that free markets are better.
Dr Michael Ayling is a specialist anaesthetist in New South Wales. This is his personal opinion and is not intended to reflect the view of any institution he works in.
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