Governor Andrew Cuomo is piloting a new program in which New Yorkers will get an “Excelsior Pass,” which would function as an internal COVID passport. It would place a secure QR code on your phone or a printed sheet of paper, confirming you had the vaccine or a recent negative COVID test, allowing you to enter spaces. If you want to get into Madison Square Garden to see the Knicks or into the Barclay’s Center to see the Nets, you’ll need to create a relationship between your medical data, IBM, your phone, and the NBA. Cuomo claims it will fast-track reopening the economy.
This is a horribly bad idea; which unfortunately, seems to be everywhere now. After Cuomo announced his plan, the news cycle began an effort to focus on the subject in earnest. Debates about COVID vaccine passports are also taking place in Europe. Even Lord Jonathan Sumption, one of the most prominent British critics of lockdowns, now seems to be resigned to the inevitability of vaccine passports, seeing them as the “least bad thing” — and the only way forward to avoid depriving everyone of access to normal life again. He sees it as the least intrusive and least coercive measure. This is very wrong estimation, as well.
Vaccine passports for COVID-19 would create a massive disruption to the normal lives of individuals by introducing a complete anomaly into the West; the need to produce documented proof to authorities, to show one’s papers containing intimate and personal information, in order to gain access to what we’ve all heretofore considered as public accommodations.
Strangely, these passports could dramatically raise the standards for access to returning to normal life while simultaneously be utilized for overt government control & coercion. The new COVID vaccines aren’t even fully tested or FDA-approved in the traditional sense; they were only approved under emergency-use authorization. There are still tens of millions of people; who for one valid reason or another do not have access to them. Will they automatically be denied their opportunity to return to normal life; and If so, for how long?
While many nations traditionally require some form of proof of vaccination before allowing entry, they do so for diseases which are extremely perilous & endemic, such as yellow fever or Hepatitus; not for illnesses like COVID-19, which are in the vast majority of cases non life-threatening.
Vaccine passports are yet another cruel attempt to move the COVID-era goalposts. We were originally told lockdowns would only be necessary a few weeks to alter the curve of transmission & infection. When the lockdowns endured, we were next told the vaccine to end them was on its way. A national or international vaccine passport system would require an enormous amount of new infrastructure, a major change in political culture, and the use of the vaccine on every living human; it would create a kind of medical apartheid.
The rejoinder is that anti-vaxxers would deserve to be outcasts. Many people may fail to be vaccinated for a variety of reasons including having other health issues or their personal choice. Vaccine hesitancy is not only a product of a particular class or demographic, it’s a serious potential impediment to immunity for everyone. The mandatory imposition of COVID passports would become just another means of reinforcing precisely the forms of inequality we’re being told we must to oppose. Despite their recent successful ventures in an authoritarian society, the NBA still isn’t requiring all of their players to take the vaccine — because there is a real hesitancy among some players. Do they really believe it’s practical to expect & demand all their fans to be vaccinated if their players are not?
Vaccine passports are a also tech-funding/subsidy bonanza in search of a government imposed mandate. The idea of health passports is also being pushed by entrepreneurs in the med-tech community. Last year, a creepy video emerged pushing the idea from an Irish company, ROQU Group. IBM’s involvement in New York is surely a product of their extensive lobbying efforts. Health-passport entrepreneurs expect to make incredible amounts of money from both governments & private users.
Health passports are also completely redundant & unnecessary. Normal life is already slowly starting to return to the United States and the UK, long before any vaccine passports will be required to facilitate it. In a few days, my own parish church, deep in a blue part of a deep blue state, will be free of all state restrictions on the number of people it can have, although we will likely continue to social distance and mask for a short while longer.
Creating a vaccine passport would only extend the miseries of COVID farther out into a time when the vaccine has largely obviated them. And It will attract a massive constituency of rent-seeking tech companies, power hungry government officials and hypochondriacs. It will serve to extend the reach of the system deeper into the personal lives of individuals and always be adding additional medical disclosure requirements to an ever growing list of conditions for entry to every diner or a baseball game. It will delay & impede the reunions of families across states, and across borders.
After World War II, British subjects were still required to show their wartime-era identity cards. It was a ridiculous hassle which ultimately inspired a movement for burning them in protest; and for disregarding the prosecution of those who were unable to show their papers. Let’s ditch this idea before it’s allowed to be started.✪