Only last week, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi assured us that the government is not looking at vaccine passports as they would be discriminatory and un-British. So imagine Mr S’s astonishment when Dominic Raab admitted that they are indeed being considered in Britain – for internal and external use.
When asked on LBC whether a domestic vaccine passport – ‘where you have to show a bit of paper to go into a supermarket’ – could be brought in, Raab confirmed: ‘It’s something that hasn’t been ruled out and is under consideration, but of course you’ve got to make it workable.’
The Foreign Secretary continued: ‘You’ve got to know that the document that’s being presented is something that you can rely on, that it’s an accurate reflection of the status of the individual. So I’m not sure there’s a fool proof answer in the way that sometimes it’s presented, but of course we’ll look at all the options.’
So, in the space of a week, we have moved from ruling out vaccine passports to looking ‘at all the options’, including internal ID cards based on the notion of greater internal access to those who can prove immuno-privilege (as Israel is already planning to do). The uncomfortable questions this raises explain why on the Andrew Marr show last week, Zahawi was saying there were ‘several reasons’ the government wouldn’t introduce vaccine ID cards.
‘One, vaccines are not mandated in this country – as Boris Johnson has quite rightly reminded Parliament that’s not how we do things in the UK, we do them by consent. We yet don’t know what the impact on transmission is and it would be discriminatory.’
But none of that stopped government offshoot Innovate UK giving at least £450,000 of public grants to companies working on the vaccine ID card technology.