'Immunity passports' for coronavirus raise ethical concerns

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

While the federal government likely will not mandate that citizens be immunized for COVID-19, private companies are poised to take advantage of the development of “digital immunity passports” that will discriminate against people who are not vaccinated, reports Axios.

“Your employer has a clear interest in knowing whether you’ve been vaccinated, as do the immigration staff in any foreign country you want to visit,” the left-leaning publication argues.

But Duke University professor Nita Farahany in the Washington Post warned that vaccine cards and immunization apps “could turn into powerful weapons of exclusion and discrimination.”

The federal government, she wrote, “should discourage the use of vaccination cards or apps for virtually any purpose other than guiding individual medical care.”

Nevertheless, airlines such as JetBlue, United and Virgin Atlantic have begun using CommonPass, an app developed by the Commons Project and the World Economic Forum that indicates whether users have tested negative for COVID-19, Slate reported.

Ticketmaster told Billboard it has “post-pandemic fan safety” plans that include digital health passes.

Dr. Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, warned in a June interview with CNBC that virtual passes could infringe on privacy.

“It’s a medical record,” said Clarke. “Any blood test you take, however seemingly trivial, is confidential.”

CNBC noted that China has used QR codes that indicate citizens’ health status to control their movements.

Last month, Quantas Airlines CEO Alan Joyce said that passengers traveling internationally on his carrier will be required to have a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that’s a necessity,” he told the Australian television show “A Current Affair”.

Joyce said he expects the requirement to be worldwide.

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say, for international travelers, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft,” Joyce said.

A report published by Johns Hopkins University said it’s questionable whether private companies could require employees to be vaccinated, although it probably could be required of customers.

The report cited a 1905 U.S. Supreme Court case concluding governments across the nation could require citizens to be vaccinated.

However, the precedent was set during a dispute over smallpox, when medical technology and treatment was vastly different. Any government attempt to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine undoubtedly would be challenged in court.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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