Do we need a vaccine passport for traveling?

By | January 29, 2021

Vaccine passport 2021After a shutdown of almost a year now, the restart of tourism cannot wait any longer. One thing we have learned during the pandemic is that travel is one of the few things in our lives that mark a fresh start. And the world is desperately in need of that renewal.

People are longing for traveling and going for a holiday abroad. They cannot wait to break out of their daily routine and to break free from home office.

However, the coronavirus is still the biggest factor impacting travel decisions. The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines gives hope to everyone that we can somehow stop this brutal virus and will be able to travel all around the world safe again. The Global Tourism Crisis Committee is calling for a vaccine passport, saying it must be introduced as an essential travel document to help restart international tourism.

In January the rising number of the new type COVID-19 cases has forced the United Kingdom to shut down all travel corridors, require all arrivals to quarantine and a total ban of arrivals from South America and Portugal. Despite the rapid action of the UK, the new type of coronavirus has spread to several European countries, resulting in new lockdowns and tightenings. And the scariest thing is, we still do not know whether the vaccines developed so far are effective against the new type of coronavirus.

Achieving such a passport has its issues, more authorities such as the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council) have found it discriminatory. If vaccines will be compulsory to fly, there will be hell of a lot of people will not be able to fly even if they are COVID-free. There are passangers in the risk factors who cannot be vaccinated, including pregnant women, people with some disease and small kids. According to the WTTC, test-and-release scheme is a far better solution where travelers test before travel to prove they are COVID-free. On the other hand, several specialists say that a proof of vaccination in order to travel is inevitable.

Probably vaccine passports won’t be really our choice, it will be the entry requirement of each country to prove immunity. We are at the very early stage of the vaccine rollout, but the ground work has been laid. There needs to be considered how we will keep records of vaccinations without burdening the national health services. For health passports to work we need a way to authenticate vaccines. At the moment people in the United Kingdom receive a bit of paper once they have been vaccinated. Well, it is not at all secure and professional, a better solution is needed urgently.

The introduction of travel restrictions during the coronavirus has led to a culture of cheating for many passengers who want to fly but cannot if they test positive for the virus. Last year such a case occured only rarely that someone falsified his or her COVID-19 test result, but it has now turned to a full-blown thriving market, the black market.

In short, if you have the money, you can find plenty of forgers using Photoshop and Microsoft Paint to change original documents. They can change the date of an old test or even the result. The problem is that COVID-19 tests are not universal and come in different format and languages. Test results need to be standardized urgently. And what if the vaccine passport is also forged in the future?