Are Covid-19 immunity and vaccination passports our ticket to freedom?

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A tourist using an immunity passport app on a phone for travel.
A tourist using an immunity passport app on a phone for travel.

Covid-19 vaccination or immunity passports are universal documents that provide official proof that an individual has been inoculated, or has tested positive for antibodies against the infectious disease, and therefore is presumed to be resistant to further infection. Both have gained substantial attention as potential tools to help recreate normality and revitalise the economy.

In just two months, more than 180 million vaccine doses have been administered in more than 90 countries. The idea of introducing these passports to "freedom" would allow vaccinated individuals, or those with proof of immunity to Covid-19, to be released from certain public health restrictions and move around more freely, including the ability to travel, socialise or return to work.

The potential for these tools to accelerate the reopening of parts of public life certainly appears positive, but Professor Jillian Gardner, a senior lecturer at the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, University of the Witwatersrand, says the introduction of immunity and vaccine passports raises a number of practical and ethical challenges.

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