There are 195 independent sovereign nations in the world, along with a handful of disputed territories and several dependent regions. And of these, more than 190 have reported COVID-19 cases. The deadly pandemic has reached all seven continents (including Antarctica) and for many nations, the threat is far from gone.
Against this backdrop, travel has become an increasingly risky prospect. Not only for those choosing to enclose themselves in close proximity for hours on end, but also for countries that might have to contend with infected travellers. And some countries think that they have hit upon the perfect solution.
Over the last few months, several nations have announced their intention to develop COVID-19 passports. Israel has already begun rolling out a scheme that allows vaccinated individuals to take part in leisure activities as the country reopens. According to an article posted on the World Economic Forum website that quotes Danish authorities, the country plans to roll out the digital 'vaccine passport' in the first few months of 2021. This will enable those who have been inoculated to travel to countries that require documentation. And as per a recent Wall Street Journal article both the European Union and China are working on a similar concept that will certify an individual's vaccination status. Australia too has spoken out in favour of the idea.
But at the same time, it has also raised concerns among health experts. As many officials have pointed out repeatedly over the last few months, taking a COVID-19 vaccine does not make you 100% immune to the virus. Not to mention, the lack of clarity on whether vaccinated individuals can still spread the virus. There are also some ethical conundrums here. After all, not all countries have access to affordable vaccines with high efficacy.
Even putting these obvious and significant concerns aside, one has to wonder how nations plan to deal with anti-vaxers. Will people who remain firmly against the COVID-19 vaccine be condemned to remain confined to their home cities? And how about political leaders and diplomats who think it is their 'right' to not take a vaccine that can possibly make you "turn into a crocodile"?