Immunity passport ideas ‘premature’ says Scotland’s National Clinical Director

INTRODUCING so-called vaccination passports has been downplayed by Scotland’s National Clinical director – but it has not been ruled out.

At Holyrood’s Covid Committee this morning, Jason Leitch told Labour’s shadow public health minister David Stewart the idea that people carry a certificate showing they have had the vaccine, giving them more freedom in daily life, was “an interesting concept”.

However, he said he remained unattracted to the concept of “red and green bar codes that allow you to behave differently – because I just don’t know the science suggests that’s the way we should go”.

MSP David Stewart wanted to know the clinical director’s opinion of Tony Blair’s calls overnight for immunity passports to be rolled out.

The former Labour leader has urged the UK to take advantage of its upcoming position chairing the G7 to push other countries to do the same.

Mr Stewart told Mr Leitch: “What Tony Blair describes is a digital process which would be capable of tracking and verifying an individual’s coronavirus status, details of vaccinations and the results of Covid-19 tests. The data will be scanned quickly. We are desperate to make sure our economy survives, and I speak as a Highlander when I say tourism is of massive importance. Can I ask for your view on this Professor, I think it is an interesting concept?”

Mr Leitch said it was indeed an interesting concept.

He insinuated the idea was premature but said the model which won his future support would be “public health-led”.

Pointing to similar models, such as surgeons unable to perform operations without showing their Hepatitis B status or being unable to visit certain places with a Yellow Fever certificate, Mr Leitch said there “certainly was precedent” for immunity passports and it was “probably something that will happen in the future”.

But he said an intelligent model would be “global rather than regional” and centred around solid public health knowledge, however more information is needed to understand more fully the transmission of the virus.

“So, I’m supportive but I am probably a little bit slower to be so than some”, he added.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Stewart said: “This needs international leadership. This is the sort of thing President Biden would perhaps look at. Whatever government does, airlines are not going to accept people on flights without some form of vaccination passport. We need something that is internationally recognisable. If we want to build up our tourism industry in the Highlands and Islands, we need to allow foreign visitors to come in.”