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Posted: Sunday, 14 March 2021 15:27

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Covid Vaccine Certificate might supplement Adhaar Card in India

March 14: According to a Poll conducted in Britain by YouGov, a majority of Brits polled, agreed that Drinkers might not be allowed to visit bars and restaurants unless they carry a vaccination certificate, writes Subhash Arora who already felt international travel would be affected drastically when Covid-19 hit the world and knowing several countries in Europe with Greece being in the forefront taking such step, feels we should soon be expecting an email from MyGov, the government founded platform in India, making it a supplement of Adhaar card required in every walk of life

The UK-based British international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm, YouGov carried out a survey amongst the Brits recently and found that a majority (56%) believe that Britons should be required to prove they have been vaccinated before visiting pubs, bars and restaurants. A higher number of 72% felt that some sort of a vaccine certificate with a proof of vaccination ought to be mandated before visiting a hospital or any health-care facility.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had suggested last month in February that such proof, often dubbed a vaccine passport, will not be required in the UK. “What I don’t think we will have in this country is the vaccination passports to allow you to go to the pub. I think that that would be going too far.” Earlier, the PIO (Person of Indian Origin) Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer had also warned of the practical, legal and ethical issues of making it mandatory.

However, only 33% believed that vaccine passports should be required for such establishments in the open spaces. As of now these are set to open from 12 April provided the government-set conditions are met. Almost half (45%) thought they should also be required for use of public transport.

There seems to be a race to create the first global vaccine passport, similar to what one saw in the manufacture of the vaccine itself last year. Iceland and Poland started issuing Covid-19 vaccine certificates last month. Denmark, Sweden and Estonia are hot on their heels and a visit to the gyms and bars will need the Green Pass in Israel, according to the report in Forbes.  Greece is leading the race since it is a Tourism-based economy and the summer season is about to begin and so has already devised a draft vaccine certificate.

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, supports the project of a common vaccination certificate. The World Health Organization (WHO) is working on an international certificate. Whether in digital or paper form, the vaccine passport or proof of vaccination will be issued by the country of origin and will allow travellers to move around Europe and enter from overseas, without additional Covid-19 tests or obligatory quarantine. 

There have already been several viewpoints expressed about international travel. I have already ignored an invitation for many such events as there was no vaccine earlier. Many events are slated to be held this summer and one hopes to attend them after a gap of over one year. Many Indian tourists also have domestic or international wine tourism in their minds. Whatever are the medium and long term uncertain effects of the vaccine or the controversy theories going around, it appears that this Certificate will be mandated in most countries after the kinks and the practical problems are sorted out.

In India, the Certificate might even be used in conjunction with the all-mighty Adhaar Card- for opening bank accounts, interstate travel by road, rail or air. MyGov is a citizen engagement platform founded by the Government of India to promote the active participation of Indian citizens in their country's governance and development. Participation or not, it is a powerful means of broadcasting government’s ideas. What is there to prevent them issuing legislation, not allowing entry to the public places like shopping malls, banks, cinema halls and of course, pubs and restaurants without such a certificate? Saving lives from the dreadful pandemic would be a reason enough to issue the guidelines for a Vaccine Certificate under the Indian Disaster Management Act 2005.

There might be long-term harms and disadvantages of vaccination against Covid but for the short and medium term living, one will have to follow the rules. After all, the strictness showed by the government and using the Disaster Management Act judiciously and generously at times, the government has been able to contain the epidemic and this might be an unavoidable step, the several practical problems and getting a demotion in the international rating from free democracy to partly free democracy, notwithstanding.

India has been just demoted from 83 to 88 out of 211 countries by the Freedom House, a US-based independent think tank that lowered the points from 71 to 67 with 100 being the score for the freest country, because of various actions by the government including the lockdown response during the Covid-19 break. It has been rated down from ‘free’ to ‘partly free’ democracy.

Subhash Arora

Voluntary Disclosure- Despite apprehensions about the negative effects, I have got the first dose of vaccination and will have the second shot next month-editor

 

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