Now it’s time for On Point, where we speak to experts to delve deeper into the biggest news stories in the spotlight right now.
Vaccine passports are the topic of fierce debate in many countries that have… or are about to… introduce them due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Korea is preparing to introduce them as well, but with mass protests against vaccine passports happening in cities across Europe, the U.S and Australia, are we likely to see a similar reaction here?
Critics say - at best - vaccine passports are a waste of time, and at worst, a gross infringement of civil liberties.
Advocates would counter that by saying… the rights of others should also be respected… to not potentially have a virus inflicted on them by an unvaccinated carrier.
To dig deeper into this topic that has sparked controversy around the world, we are happy to be joined live by Professor Michael Toole, Associate Principal Research Fellow, at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, Australia.
Professor, Australia has seen its fair share of protests against vaccine passports. Looking at the data available to us, are these passports productive, neutral or counterproductive in preventing the transmission of COVID-19? And, speaking for yourself, are you for… or against them?
Critics of vaccine passports say that insisting people be vaccinated in exchange for keeping their jobs or simply going to the store steps way over the line and essentially makes them second-class citizens. Taking the possible medical pros and cons out of the equation, where do you stand on the ethics of vaccine passports?
Early in this pandemic, back in April 2020, the World Health Organization, in a scientific brief, recommended against the use of vaccine passports. The notion of vaccine mandates and even booster shots used to be shrugged off as mere "conspiracy theories." That was then, this is now. What’s changed?
Finally, there are also privacy issues regarding vaccine passports, which are almost exclusively in a digital format. They're installed on smartphones, meaning an individual's movements can be tracked round-the-clock. On top of that, there are concerns about personal data being stolen or leaked. What, if anything, could be done to prevent such overreach by governments or data breaches?
We appreciate your insights on this complex and multi-faceted debate. Professor Michael Toole, Associate Principal Research Fellow, at the Burnet Institute, thanks for joining us and we hope to have you back again soon.