Protester holds an anti-vaccine placard in east London on December 5, 2020.
JUSTIN TALLIS | AFP | Getty Images
LONDON – A perfect storm is brewing as Covid-19 vaccines become increasingly popular in countries around the world.
While many people can't wait to protect themselves from the virus, some firmly believe they won't get the sting, so populations will be divided into vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.
One in five people in the UK say they are unlikely to take the vaccine. This is the result of a YouGov study published in November, which gives various reasons.
Due to the different views, a debate could start in 2021. Should restrictions be placed on people who do not wish to be vaccinated as they can catch and spread the virus?
It's a touchy subject, but governments are already looking into putting in place systems that will allow authorities and possibly businesses to determine whether or not a person has received a Covid vaccine.
China has launched a health code app that shows whether a person is symptom-free to check into a hotel or use the subway. In Chile, citizens who have recovered from the coronavirus have been issued "virus-free" certificates.
On December 28, Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said the country would create a register to show who refused to be vaccinated and that the database could be shared across Europe.
Isra Black, professor of law at the University of York, and Lisa Forsberg, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford who studies medical ethics, told CNBC that it is "not easy to say whether this is ethical for a state . " Impose restrictions "on people who refuse a push.
The scientists said in a joint statement via email that the answer will depend on factors such as vaccine supply, vaccination levels in the population, the nature of restrictions on vaccine objectors, and the implementation of the restrictions.
"We might think that there are strong, if not necessarily decisive, reasons for restricting the regaining of freedoms before the pandemic for people who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19, for example with regard to their freedom of assembly," said Black and Forsberg. "There is potential for unvaccinated individuals to contract a serious case of coronavirus that we believe would be bad for them but could also negatively affect others, such as if health resources were diverted from non-covidic care have to."
The couple added that if the vaccines are found to be reducing transmission, it might be justified for the state to curb vaccine objectors.
They also stressed that the free circulation of unvaccinated people may be linked to the development and spread of mutations in the virus, some of which may become resistant to vaccines.
In December, it emerged that Los Angeles County plans to save Covid vaccine recipients a vaccination record in the Apple Wallet on their iPhone, which can also be used to store tickets and boarding passes in digital form. Officials say it will first be used to remind people to get their second shot of the vaccine, but it could eventually be used to gain access to concert venues or airline flights.
"The idea of immunity certificates is not new," said Kevin Trilli, chief product officer for identity verification startup Onfido, to CNBC. "For example, children who get vaccinated against measles, polio and other diseases often have to show their immunity certificate in order to register at a new school. Health passports could be a way to reopen the economy and the new normal with one Data protection-first approach to manage. "
Trilli added, "There is a growing appetite for the travel industry to use health passports / certificates to improve the safety of their employees and customers and instill greater levels of trust to catalyze the tourism industry again."
In May, John Holland-Kaye, CEO of the UK's busiest airport, Heathrow, backed the introduction of health certification to help the country get out of the then tighter travel restrictions. Heathrow Airport did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said in April that immunity passes could be used to help airmen feel more secure in their personal safety while traveling.
A Ryanair spokesperson said "Vaccinations are not required when flying Ryanair" when CNBC asked if it would ever prevent unvaccinated people from flying its planes. British Airways, Qantas and easyJet did not respond to CNBC's request for comment.
The situation in Great Britain
Last year, Nadhim Zahawi, the economy minister who was appointed British vaccine tsar in late November, said the public may need an immunity pass to gain access to some locations.
"We're looking at technology and, of course, a way people can tell their general practitioner (doctor) if they've been vaccinated," Zahawi said on November 30th during an interview with BBC Radio 4. Sports venues are likely to use this system as well. "
Not everyone likes this idea. Sam Berry, who runs two restaurants in South West London called Hideaway and No.97, told CNBC: "We firmly believe that everyone is treated equally. Everyone has a right to their views and beliefs, and we don't want them to stop. "
He added, "Hospitality would be broken down into restaurants and bars for vaccinated guests and then bars and restaurants for non-vaccinated guests. That sounds just crazy to me."
Darren Jones, an opposition Labor lawmaker in the UK, told CNBC: "I just hope we have a proper debate and full review of all proposed immunity passports that I assume will be a thing if not a thing are." ""
Jones added that all immunity passports should be tied to a "long overdue debate about a proper national ID system".
The vaccine against Oxford-AstraZeneca was approved by UK regulators on December 30th, meaning there are now two safe vaccines available to UK citizens.
But millions of people across the country still don't want to be vaccinated, according to opinion polls. Some fear needles, others believe in baseless conspiracy theories, and others are concerned about possible side effects. Others simply don't feel it is necessary to get vaccinated and prefer to risk catching Covid.
Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said December 1 there were "no plans" to introduce a vaccination record, and the Department of Health and Social Welfare echoed the news when contacted by CNBC.
The DHSC said it would be able to collect evidence of the effects on infection rates, hospitalization and reducing deaths as large numbers of people from risk groups receive an effective vaccine.
If successful, it should, over time, lead to a major re-evaluation of the current restrictions.