Will you need a vaccine passport for the pub? For much of the world, it already exists. There has recently been some controversy in the UK, when it was suggested that you might need a Vaccine passport, or the like to visit the pub, or travel. The logistics, discriminatory implications and indeed morality of such a thing have been called into question, but what exactly would it mean?
We personally make no political statement one the rights, or wrongs of this, but the reality for many, as horrifying as it sounds is that, we do need a “pass” to visit the pub, or supermarket. The reality also is that if you decide to travel to certain countries, you will have to as well.
Vaccine passport for the pub – Cambodian tracking apps
I remember talking to a Khmer friend many months ago who could not believe that we not quarantine in the UK. Cambodia shut its borders last March, and due to policies far stricter than in the UK and Europe was largely spared some of the worst aspects of the pandemic.
You can read about the normality of life in Cambodia here.
This was to change on February 20th when some people allegedly bribed their way past quarantine, thus plunged the country into a mini-outbreak. I say mini, because things are still being counted by the hundreds, not the tens, of hundreds. Despite this measures have been brought into place to help not only prevent the spread of the virus, but also track where people are.
To read about February 20th incident click here.
It goes very simply. You arrive at a destination, be it a bar, shop, or supermarket and you scan a QR code. The QR code has theoretically tracked other places that you have been, and providing that you have not been anywhere that has had an outbreak you get a green tick. The security guard then lets you into the venue. So, yeah like a vaccine passport for the pub.
Quite what happens if you get a red cross, I will hopefully not find out, but essentially you will be hospitalized, or quarantined. Also if an outbreak occurs from venue that you have been to, then it makes it easier to track and trace you. In all honesty, not all that much of a hassle and one understands that it is for the greater good.
So the government is tracking your every move?????
This is where the authoritarian paradox comes into play. Yes in essence the government are tracking (almost) my every move, but I am not engaging in illegal activities, so am not personally bothered about the government doing this. I’m also aware of the implications, and the arguments about why this is so scary, but I will add two points.
I am fairly sure that in places where nefarious things are happening there is no QR code system. Again, I would not know first hand, but I am sure the local drug dealer isn’t testing your temperature and giving out hand sanitizer, not insisting on a vaccine passport for the pub.
Secondly and this is always reminds me of a question I get asked in North Korea “Do they bug your hotel room”. The short answer to this is that no they do not. Could they if they really wanted to? Of course, much like in any country. Any country can put you under surveillance if they feel the need. And yes this includes the bastions of democracy of the world. Sorry.
Should these tracing apps last forever? Of course not, but with the increasing digitization of payments, and the fact we all have smartphones, the reality is we are already being tracked anyone, by Google and Apple at the very least. Particularly in places like the UK where every drink (almost) is paid by swiping a card, Big Brother knows exactly where you are and what you are doing, regardless of a vaccine passport for the pub.
Isn’t it discriminatory?
Is a vaccine passport for the pub, or general travel discriminatory? Well that is another word that gets banded about quite freely. Discrimination. I’ll start by being very clear. I am talking about the Apps, we personally have to use in Cambodia. These are similar to ones in China for example.
China have been running their program of scanning QR codes since almost the start of the pandemic. And you cannot even get on a bus without a nice green tick. This is to protect the greater good and to halt a pandemic, something China were largely successful in doing.
So the vaccine passport for the pub, or wherever cannot be seen as discriminatory as it related to public health.
How much freedom have we lost?
Coronavirus, whilst serious has not been “that bad”. This is in the sense that getting it does not immediately kill you, and your chances of survival are by and large extremely good. It is because of these numbers that people see certain things as discriminatory. Let’s say Covid-19 killed people at will like Ebola. If this were the case there would the army on the streets and martial law in most countries. This is not hyperbole, it is the truth.
There these inconveniences and loss of freedoms need to be taken into consideration. The reality in Cambodia is that the health system could not cope with a nationwide pandemic. When you see how poorly hospital systems have fared in developed countries than you can truly grasp that in the developing world, the only option is prevention. Vaccinates and cures are still theoretical to most of the world.
Vaccine passports are nothing new
In 2019 I led a huge group of tourists to the Pacific Islands. Just before the trip there was a measles outbreak in Samoa and other countries that spread throughout the region. Measles you say? Isn’t there a vaccine for that? The outbreak was caused by too many people having not been vaccinated. The whole region therefore insisted on proof of vaccination BEFORE you could board a flight, and when you ARRIVED. No vaccine, no entry, nice and simple.
There are numerous other countries that require vaccine for things such as yellow fever too. Again thankfully Ebola never got to pandemic level, but there were multiple travel restrictions put into place as a precautionary measure.
Will there be a vaccine passport and will it be discriminatory?
I’ve already written a lot about if there will be a vaccine passport, and the short answer is yes. There are still a number of countries that merely require a negative test, or simply nothing at all. These tend to be extremely poor countries. The rest of the world are already starting to insist on vaccinated people. There is every chance that the few countries still open will follow suit.
To read which countries are open to travel click here.
So, in the loosest terms a vaccine passport will be discriminatory in that it will let those that have had the vaccine travel, and those have not will not be bale to. But, let us not pretend we do not already live in a discriminatory world. The majority of the planet have never been on, nor are likely to ever leave their country due to economics. Discrimination exists, but in this context at least it is related to health.
What if I don’t want the vaccine?
I will not make a judgment about anti-vaxers, others than I know a number that have severely changed their tune when it comes to the Covid vaccine. If you uno want to have the vaccine that is your right, but it is also the right of private companies, governments and countries to protect the wider population.
No one likes the situation that we are in, but we have to work together for a solution.
Vaccine passport for the pub? It already exists!