This morning the new vaccine deployment minister, Nadhim Zahawi, appeared to change his tune when it comes to the use of ‘immunity passports’ for the British public.
After telling the BBC last week that UK residents might need some proof of their Covid vaccination status to dine out at a restaurant or attend a sporting event, Zahawi rolled back his comments on Spectator TV.
In a Q&A following his keynote speech at The Spectator's Health Summit (held in partnership with MSD), Zahawi told broadcaster Alastair Stewart that so-called 'immunity passports' were not actually on the cards:
“'There will not be an immunity passport. I may have misspoken or it was conflated in the interview I gave. I was talking about the brilliant use of the app... as far as vaccinations [go], we're not looking at immunity passports at all.'The most important thing, ultimately, is to vaccinate the people who are at highest risk at death from this virus. If we can do that, the sooner we do that, the sooner we can get back to normal life.'
Does this finally bring the ‘immunity passport’ debate to a close then? Unfortunately not.
Minister James Cleverly toured the broadcast studios this morning, and refused to say whether vaccination ‘cards’ administered by the NHS could be used to gain entry or access to certain parts of life. Mr S wonders if Cleverly found it hard to keep a straight face on Sky News when asked by Kay Burley if there was a difference between a vaccine card and an immunity passport – with Cleverly eventually brushing the questions off as a debate on 'semantics'.
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) December 7, 2020
Will we need ‘vaccine passports’ in 2021?@michaelgove suggested we wouldn’t.But listen carefully to @JamesCleverly. RC#KayBurley pic.twitter.com/u6Iitmm4RL
Are immunity passports going to be brought back under a different name? Since ministers still seem to be unsure, Mr S wonders if it's time for the Prime Minister to clarify the government’s position once and for all…