Concerns have been raised over the issuing of ‘Covid passports’ to allow people to travel, with a UK travel operator saying that it could amount to “coercion”.
The Telegraph revealed that Britons who have been inoculated against coronavirus could have their passports stamped to show they have had the vaccine – enabling them to travel freely once again.
This, or a similar scheme, has been labelled a “necessity” by the head of Australian airline Qantas for international visitors, prompting Tradewinds Travel to pull all flights with the airline. Korean Air and Air New Zealand also echoed a similar position.
“We feel that bodily autonomy with regard to medical intervention is a personal choice and not something to be forced onto people by businesses,” Tradewinds said in a tweet. “We are not anti-vaccination but we are pro-choice. There is a huge difference between coercion and making a free choice.”
Even the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) appears split on the issue. Janet Lord, professor of immune cell biology at the University of Birmingham, said “a vaccine passport does make sense, at least initially”. However, Ian Jones, professor of virology at the University of Reading said: “It is tantamount to making the vaccine compulsory, which no other vaccine is.”
Stamps as proof of being vaccinated were raised last week by Tory MP James Sunderland who asked the Prime Minister whether he had considered “the utility of having vaccination stamps in passports, or an equivalent scheme, to get our plans off the ground”. Mr Johnson replied that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was “looking at all such schemes” and could offer an assurance that he had heard the call “loud and clear”.
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