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Where is the evidence that vaccine passports work?

There are, basically, two arguments in favour of covid vaccine passports, which, the media tells us, the Government is planning to extend this week beyond their original planned expiration date of October 22nd.

The first argument in their favour is that they help to reduce the spread of Covid 19 by keeping unvaccinated people out of spaces in which they might spread Covid 19 to vaccinated people. This argument makes little sense, and has no evidence whatsoever to support it. In the first instance, Ireland presently has a significantly higher rate of Covid spread than countries which have a lower instance of vaccination, and no vaccine passports:

Sweden does not use vaccine passports, their country has no remaining Covid restrictions, and yet, their case numbers and hospital numbers are vastly lower than those in Ireland.

If you look at the data, country by country, you will not find any relationship at all between the use of Covid Vaccine Passports and case numbers, or hospitalisation numbers.

And of course, that is not surprising: Because Covid Vaccine passports, if they had any effect at all on case numbers, could not be expected to have anything more than an ultra-marginal one. After all, they are only used in public places: There is no requirement (nor should there be) to show a vaccine passport to attend a christening, or a wedding, or a funeral, or a house party. The passports have a very limited opportunity to work. Speaking personally, having had a vaccine passport now since June, and lived a relatively normal life, I have had need to present it only three times: Twice in restaurants, once in a motorway service station. In that same period, I have met hundreds of people, mostly outside settings where vaccine passports are sought.

It seems highly unlikely then, that they have any effect on transmissions at all.

What about the second argument? The second argument is that they coerce people to get a vaccine, and that this is a good thing.

Again, though, there is basically no evidence of that. Ireland’s vaccine uptake rate was very high before vaccine passports were introduced. It has remained high (albeit with some fall off, in fact) since they were introduced. There is no evidence at all, of any kind, in any data, that suggests that vaccine passports have encouraged the recalcitrant to get jabbed in any significant numbers.

Of course, there is also a third, usually unspoken reason for vaccine passports, and it is a combination of punishment and reward.

There is no doubt at all that a significant section of the population enjoy having what amounts to a certificate of good citizenship. There is also no doubt at all that a portion of the population takes satisfaction in seeing the unvaccinated be punished for not conforming with the majority. This is a very human trait, and a common one. No doubt, if the Government were to propose abolishing vaccine passports tomorrow morning, the airwaves would be filled with angry callers (and some angry radio presenters) claiming that this meant that the unvaccinated minority had “won” – as if it’s a competition.

The problem is this: If the Government is going to severely restrict the civil liberties of a section of the population, which vaccine passports are explicitly intended to do, then it should have overwhelming evidence both that the measure is necessary, and that it will work as intended.

As of today, nobody can present any evidence at all that Vaccine Passports actually do work in either of their two primary goals.

Given the burdens they impose on people, and the liberties they take away from people, that is not good enough. They should absolutely, and immediately, be abolished.

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