In this distressing time of the Covid-19 pandemic, humanity can be broadly divided into two: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, let alone the infected and dead. The deadly coronavirus has claimed more than 3.47 million lives, and the total confirmed cases are more than 167.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. A cumulative 1.74 billion people around the world are now vaccinated against Covid, making them less vulnerable to the disease.
The vaccinated also feel ‘privileged’ because they are owners of so-called ‘vaccine passport’, the latest rage among travel enthusiasts and business class people. Nations keen to reopen their economies welcome the move as a vaccine passport would be the first step to ensure hassle-free travel during the pandemic.
A vaccine Passport is a proof of document that says a person is vaccinated against Covid-19. But, none of the UN organisations, including the World Health Organisation, has announced the electronic document mandatory for travel. However, many countries have made the paperless certificate a prerequisite to avoid 14-day quarantine after arriving at the destinations.
The vaccine passport thus helps people on emergency trips, overseas students, and diaspora who have less time to waste for the room or hotel quarantine. As of now, no Covid vaccine offers full protection against Coronavirus infection. However, life has to go on, and people have to move on with their lives. Hence the vaccine passport.
A vaccine passport also has its own merits and demerits. The biggest advantage is it would definitely reduce unnecessary air travel, and thus stop the spread of the virus from one nation to another. However, it is also a fact that even vaccinated people are getting Covid positive and dying in different parts of the world. However, being vaccinated means less chance for infected people to travel, and more security to others.
Another benefit is it would enable sectors and industries hit by the pandemic to revive their business while imposing social distancing measures. Europe has already started accepting vaccinated people even from America, the country with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world. Vaccination drive is in full swing under President Joe Biden who promised to administer 100 million jabs within 100 days of his office. As of now, America has vaccinated nearly a 290million people against Covid-19. The country with the second-highest infection rate, India, is far behind the US with 198.43 million. The following graph shows how each country has vaccinated its citizens with the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
Though World Health Organisation has not made a Vaccine passport mandatory to travel, countries are going ahead with allowing vaccinated people to visit their countries. For that, they rely on the WHO-approved list of vaccines for emergency use.
WHO has listed Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK Bio, Serum Institute of India, Janssen, Moderna, and Sinopharm vaccines for emergency use. Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine got approval on 31 December 2020; two AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India on 15 February 2021; and Ad26.COV2.S was developed by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) on 12 March 2021, and the Sinopharm vaccine produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd got approval on 7 May 2021.
Two vaccines, India’s second indigenous product COVAXINE, and Russia’s Sputnik V are awaiting a nod from the WHO. Though Covaxin is accepted only in nine nations, over 130 countries across the globe currently accept Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield vaccine to enter their country. More than 60 countries had registered Sputnik V for emergency use and many countries, including India, had already received the first set of consignments.
Reports say biometrics company iProov and cybersecurity firm Mvine have already started developing passports that have in-built vaccine pass. Some of them are now being tested within Britain’s National Health Service after receiving UK government funding. Such vaccine passports only really need to hold two pieces of information. Whether the passport holder has been vaccinated, and what does this person look like?
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