Covid vaccine passports are a useful weapon in battle against anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories – Scotsman comment

It was eminently predictable that people who, for whatever reason, decided not to get vaccinated against Covid would be more likely to become seriously ill or, indeed, die.

Covid vaccination rates are still not as high as they could be (Picture: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Dr Linda de Caestecker, of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, recently spoke of how “it feels so frustrating” to see unvaccinated Covid patients in hospital because “this could have been prevented”.

According to figures for England, 74 per cent of people admitted to hospital emergency departments with Omicron Covid in the week to December 29 had not received all three doses of vaccine. Furthermore, an Office for National Statistics report on Covid deaths in England from January to October last year found the death rate for people who had received two doses was a staggering 96 per cent lower than those who had not been vaccinated.

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So anyone who believes misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines should reassess their thinking. But so should society as a whole.

Life is about making choices and if those choices have harmful effects on others then it is not unreasonable for there to be consequences as a result.

While there are genuine civil liberty concerns about Covid passports, the extension of Scotland’s scheme – accompanied by proper controls and safeguards, and time-limited – seems a reasonable and proportionate step to take.

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Instead of blanket controls on the population, Covid passports reward the vaccinated with something akin to normal life, while creating a pressure on the unvaccinated to change their minds as they miss out.

As Nicola Sturgeon said, too many people are not yet fully vaccinated and they “are putting your own and other people’s lives at unnecessary risk”.

Amid rising admissions to intensive care, the continued pressure on the NHS is leading to delays and cancellations of operations and other forms of treatment, such as the extraordinary decision to have a month-long “managed suspension” of GPs' services in Lanarkshire.

In the modern world, we give vast amounts of information to private companies like Facebook and Google in a way we once would have thought Orwellian.

So while an extension of Covid passports is a further compromise on civil liberties, it is a relatively small one that is justified by our current circumstances and could make a difference in winning over the remaining doubters to the very real benefits of vaccination.

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