Working Paper

A Terrible Great Idea? COVID-19 ‘Vaccination Passports’ in the Spotlight

Published 11 March 2021 / By Oskar Josef Gstrein, Dimitry Vladimirovich Kochenov & Andrej Zwitter

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This article looks at central opportunities and drawbacks of the ‘passportization’ approach to governing the current health emergency. It showcases the complexity of the ‘vaccination passports’ idea, the technological and organisational difficulties expected during implementation, as well as its regrettable appeal. We provide a comprehensive overview on the ongoing discussion with analysis of arguments relating to the ethical, social and legal perspective. We submit that vaccination passports will not become the main tool in the fight with the COVID-19 crisis and are unlikely to play a positive role in the mitigation of its impact. There is no clear and straightforward connection to safety and security, while their rapid introduction might have similar consequences to opening Pandora’s box of discrimination and stigmatization.


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