We are crowdfunding to grow the greatest possible fight against domestic COVID passes - including a legal challenge as soon as necessary.
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Your donations will build the biggest possible campaign to prevent domestic COVID passes. We have recruited an expert team of human rights lawyers.
If COVID passes do go ahead, we will seek to use these funds to bring a legal challenge to stop COVID passes in Britain.
To date, 9 rights groups, 14 peers and 79 MPs have joined the cross-party campaign to oppose COVID-status certificates. MPs and peers from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Conservative parties have signed a pledge: "We oppose the divisive and discriminatory use of COVID status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs." If you are a parliamentarian or organisation and you wish to join the list please email email@example.com
MPS LAUNCH CROSS-PARTY CAMPAIGN AGAINST COVID PASSES
To date, 9 rights groups, 14 peers and 79 MPs have joined the cross-party campaign to oppose COVID-status certificates. MPs and peers from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Conservative parties have signed a pledge: "We oppose the divisive and discriminatory use of COVID status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs."
If you are a parliamentarian or organisation and you wish to join the list please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to read the report
In light of Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove's review into whether COVID-status certificates should be used for segregation in the UK, we've launched a report detailing the case against making Britain a two-tier society.
We understand businesses want to reopen as soon as possible, but fairness, rights and equality must come before profit. When businesses and events reopen, they must reopen safely and fairly for everyone. We’re boycotting businesses and events that deny general services or jobs to people based on whether they’ve received a vaccine.
The availability of effective vaccines means that those most vulnerable to covid-19, and soon anyone who wants and is medically eligible for a vaccine, will have a high level of protection from the virus. This means hospitalisations and deaths associated with the virus will drastically fall and overbearing controls on society cannot be justified.
This means those who are vaccinated will be at a very low risk of becoming ill from Covid-19.
Aside from the severe inequality and rights issues, it would make no sense to exclude unvaccinated people from public life as it is currently thought that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can transmit the virus. There is no conclusive evidence yet as to how the vaccines affect transmissibility of the virus.Hide extra content...Reveal more...
For this reason, the WHO does not even advise on Covid-19 vaccine requirements for international travel at this time. However, if the vaccines do significantly reduce transmission, that will be great news – and even less reason for vaccine passports, as the high vaccination rates in the UK to date mean infections and hospitalisations will quickly drop.
Since the Prime Minister is reviewing ‘Covid Status Certificates’ rather than ‘vaccine passports’ per se, the Government will likely propose that a covid test status could be used as an alternative to a vaccine status. However, mass testing of healthy people could create more problems than it solves. This approach in schools has been criticised by public health experts. Lateral flow tests suffer from a degree of accuracy that, in a large population of healthy people, could lead more people to be wrongly diagnosed with covid-19 than correctly. The tests can also fail to identify people who do have the virus, in which case a covid pass could lead to potentially risky behaviours.
There is no silver bullet out of the pandemic. Free and fair access to vaccines, healthcare, quarantine, test and trace, and proportionate safety measures will all be needed to protect public health and get the country back to normal.
The effect of covid passports would be to socially and economically exclude people without a covid vaccine or recent test result, and deny them basic freedoms. In doing so, some of the most marginalised in society would suffer discrimination.
Under equality law, it is unlawful to discriminate against people with ‘protected characteristics’ - which include age, disability, pregnancy and religion or belief.Hide extra content...Reveal more...
If the Government allows society to be segregated according to vaccination status:
Some people have suggested that exemptions could be created to allow certain unvaccinated people with protected characteristics into vaccinated-only spaces – but a covid pass would incur a serious privacy intrusion for those people. Others may deduce that the exempt individual has health problems, is pregnant, or has a certain belief system – this is not only an invasion of privacy, but could lead to disadvantageous treatment.
The inequality and unfairness would not stop there.
At the moment, research indicates that people from ethnic minority groups, people with lower levels of education and lower incomes are the most ‘hesitant’ or unlikely to receive covid vaccines. Further, many of the estimated 1+ million undocumented migrants in the UK are fearful of accessing health services due to punitive data sharing as part of hostile environment policies – and may be more apprehensive still if covid passes become an everyday requirement. We cannot simply erase histories and experiences of discrimination and hostility that have created distrust – in fact, vaccine segregation would only deepen discrimination and alienate people even more. This would be disastrous for trust in public health authorities when trust has never been needed more.
Finally, it is important to remember that 94% of countries that have started vaccinating their populations are in the high- or high-middle-income category. There are millions of citizens of the world who simply will not have access to covid-19 vaccines for years to come. As we emerge from the pandemic, disproportionate vaccine requirements should not unfairly impede their freedom of movement and close the world to them.
Research from across Europe shows that compelling people to take vaccines does not necessarily result in higher uptake of vaccines. Further, statistics show that the UK has some of the most positive attitudes towards vaccines across Europe, and that the top 5 European nations for positive attitudes towards vaccinations all have voluntary vaccination policies. The European nations with the most negative attitudes towards vaccinations include those with mandatory vaccination policies: Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia.
In fact, coercing people to have vaccines can be counter-productive if it lowers trust and raises suspicions.Hide extra content...Reveal more...
Further, the Government’s repeated U-turns and ‘review’ into vaccine passports has done little to foster trust. Many people are now understandably preoccupied with protecting their right to freely choose vaccinations, anxious about how it could affect their employment, and worried about the threat of social exclusion, rather than building a positive association with their free choices over covid vaccines. Warranted distrust in proposals for an unprecedented system of vaccine checkpoints could rapidly blend into distrust of the whole vaccine programme.
There is some precedent in the UK on vaccine compulsion. In 1853, the Vaccination Act made smallpox vaccinations of infants compulsory; in 1867, vaccinations were made compulsory for all under-14s. The new laws resulted in fines, prosecutions, court challenges and even a mass protest of 100,000 people. The policy had sparked an anti-vaccination movement and the emergence of the National Anti-Vaccination League. Eventually, in 1898, the law was changed so that vaccines were no longer mandatory and the anti-vaccination movement subsided. Today, the Public Health Act 1984 specifically prohibits forced vaccinations – and we have some of the highest vaccine uptake rates in Europe. It would be backwards and counter-productive for the UK to make the same mistakes of coercive Victorian medicine policies.
The UK has a proud history of opposition to ID cards. We are not a papers-carrying country. But covid passes would turn us into a two-tier, checkpoint society where we each have to show an app or certificate simply in order to enjoy public life. This would be a serious break from our long-guarded democratic traditions and would disadvantage marginalised people.Hide extra content...Reveal more...
In fact, when arguing against ID cards in 2003, Michael Gove – who is now leading the Government’s review of Covid Status Certificates - said:
“We as free citizens devolve power upwards. We don’t operate at the license or leisure or pleasure of those who happen to govern us at any given point (…) The idea that we should be licensed to exist by the state is, as a matter of principle, wrong.”
However, covid passes would do precisely that – they would be our license to exist.
The combination of apps with sensitive health data and the subversion of everyday businesses and events into checkpoints could constitute the biggest expansion of the surveillance state ever seen in the UK.Hide extra content...Reveal more...
Proposals for Covid Status Certificates must be viewed in the context of the ever-growing surveillance state and growing problems with data exploitation. In particular, we have been observing and challenging moves by political and corporate powers towards biometric surveillance systems for border control, law enforcement and generalised surveillance.
Many of the covid pass proposals would rely on facial recognition on an app. Once the population had been forced to accept this, it would not be too long before facial recognition checks came off our phones – after all, not everyone has a smart phone – and onto facial recognition cameras at so-called “seamless” checkpoints.
Tech vendors will claim facial recognition is necessary to prevent vaccine pass fraud, and also that it makes the certificate “more private” than an ID card as it won’t need to show other personal details like your name and address. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, biometric health passes could easily be like ID cards on steroids. Having your private medical data digitally connected to permanent, unchangeable, biologically identifying data like your facial biometric can be dangerously more intrusive than an ID card. Facial recognition opens the possibility of us all becoming walking ID cards, whose data can be accessed with or without our choice.
Covid Status Certificates would likely begin with limitations meaning they could only be used for covid-19 – but after the huge cost and reorganisation of society, this would never last. Covid passes would inevitably expand to be used for other purposes. The rationale underpinning the proposal would be applied to other vaccines, seasonal influenza and other health issues – and potentially much more. It is quite possible that biological risk scores could expand and morph over time.
It is also likely that the first proposals for Covid Status Certificates will claim to be time-limited – but this would never last. If we accept covid certificates, we will never be able to get rid of digital health passes. Almost every promise about ‘temporary’ measures over the past year has been broken as they have endured and expanded. As the saying goes, nothing is so permanent as a temporary government programme.Hide extra content...Reveal more...
If people accept the claim of authorities that covid passes are the only way for us to get our freedom back, taking them away will create insecurity. Similarly, over-bearing airport security theatre and many of the excessive counter-terror laws enforced post-9/11 have never been rolled back, but expanded.
This isn’t even as simple as a division between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. As more research emerges about the effectiveness of different vaccines against different coronavirus strains, it is feasible that covid passes could be used to put controls on people who received less effective vaccines or who require boosters.Hide extra content...Reveal more...
And, it’s not even just about controls from authorities – it’s also about the severely divisive social impact covid passes would have. The segregation of vaccinated and unvaccinated people will lead to fear, hatred, and a sense of entitlement among some to be abusive to others who are suspected of being a ‘risk’. A national policy allowing or encouraging such division could severely fuel and exacerbate hostility between social groups.
We are experiencing one of the greatest challenges the world has faced since WWII. The best way we can get through this is together – with compassion, care and community. However, Covid Status Certificates would force people apart, leading to division and discrimination.
Bodily autonomy is an important aspect of the right to privacy. Compulsory vaccination, as an involuntary medical treatment, amounts to an interference with the right to a private life (Solomakhin v Ukraine). We believe individuals have the right to make their own choices about their own bodies.Hide extra content...Reveal more...
UK laws generally respect medical consent and mandatory vaccines are prohibited under the Public Health Act. However, vaccine passports would clearly cause people to feel coerced, rather than supported, to receive vaccines. They would have a similar effect to mandatory vaccine policies, which are typically imposed by exclusion or penalties for those who decline vaccines. The penalty of reduced liberties for otherwise healthy individuals who refuse medical treatment or testing would mark a serious change in our public health system.
A vaccine passport is a proposed document or digital pass that details the covid-19 vaccinations an individual has received.
A Covid Status Certificate is a proposed digital pass that details the covid-19 vaccinations and/or recent covid-19 test results than an individual has received. It is envisaged for use by businesses, services and events in order to exclude people who have not received a covid-19 vaccine, people who have not had a recent covid test or people who have had a recent positive test result.
We don’t know yet exactly what shape the Covid Status Certificate proposals might take. In Israel, the covid “green pass” can be a print-out QR code for people who do not use smart phones.
No, a covid pass would be nothing like a driving license. A driving license provides evidence of a qualification. We do not need a qualification merely in order to live.
No, it would be nothing like a yellow card. Unlike yellow fever certificates, the Covid Status Certificate has been envisaged as a population-wide, digital pass for access to domestic businesses, services and events.
Evidence of a yellow fever vaccination is typically a paper document provided for entry to select countries where the local risk of yellow fever – which has a far higher fatality rate than covid-19 – is high.
The WHO currently advises against requirements of proof of Covid-19 vaccination for international travel as a condition of departure or entry, given that there are “critical unknowns” regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission. The WHO states:
“A number of scientific unknowns remain concerning the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines: efficacy in preventing disease and limiting transmission, including for variants of SARS-CoV-2; duration of protection offered by vaccination; timing of booster doses; whether vaccination offers protection against asymptomatic infection; age and population groups that should be prioritized for vaccination, specific contraindications, how long before travel vaccines should be offered; and possible exemption of people who have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.”
Vaccination entry requirements have never been imposed as blanket rules internationally – they should be specific, limited and proportionate to the local context and risks associated with individual countries.
You can read all the reasons above on why vaccine passports, even with exemptions, are unnecessary, divisive, discriminatory and wrong.
It’s important to consider that even a covid pass showing an individual is medically exempt would incur a serious privacy intrusion, leading others to deduce that the exempt individual must have health problems or is pregnant. This is not only an invasion of privacy, but could lead to disadvantageous treatment – particularly in an employment context.
Businesses can broadly decide who they do and do not serve. However, if businesses deny services based on vaccine passes, they may be at risk of unlawfully discriminating against people on the basis of protected characteristics (see our section above on discrimination. The Government has a duty to protect people from discrimination too – so if public authorities support checkpoint systems that lead to unlawful discrimination, the Government could be breaching its legal duties too.
No. We need serious public health policies, not a reductive ultimatum between life under house arrest or living on tag. Vaccine passports are not a silver bullet solution – in fact, there’s no evidence they are any kind of solution at all. To protect public health and avoid future lockdowns we need free and fair access to vaccines and healthcare, adequate support for infectious people to quarantine, a highly effective test and trace system, and proportionate public safety measures.
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