Too early to push for “health passports” says Scotland’s First Minister

MSP David Stewart, Shadow Health Minister, questioned the First Minister in Holyrood today.

The First Minister has said it is too early to be discussing the roll out of a coronavirus vaccine passport system.

Pressed for her view in Parliament today, Nicola Sturgeon said there was” much still to be learned” about how the virus transmits after someone has been vaccinated.

The SNP leader said the outcome of global discussions around the technical details, and the ethical and equality issues and privacy standards, would guide the Scottish Government’s work on the area.

The concept was raised at First Minister’s Questions by Labour’s Shadow Health Minister David Stewart.

Addressing the First Minister, he said: “The recovery phase of the pandemic will see a weakened global economy, with our domestic tourism industry in freefall.

“An internationally-recognised digital passport could contain details of vaccination history and recent results of COVID-19 tests accessed through a QR reader. Does the First Minister agree with me that the UK presidency of the G7 gives an opportunity to lead on this issue, an idea whose time has come?”

Miss Sturgeon replied: “Yes, I do believe there is an opportunity to lead on this discussion. Is it an idea whose time has come around now? I’m not sure we are yet at that stage because I don’t think we know enough and understand enough about the impact of the vaccine to know exactly what certification we would be certifying, and I think the whole world has to know more about this before we can take final decisions. But in the fullness of time I think they may well have a role to play.”

It comes after former prime minister Tony Blair called for the UK to use its G7 leadership to introduce such a scheme globally.

A report by his think tank, the Tony Blair Institute, said an international Covid Pass should include the traveller’s vaccination details – including what brand of vaccine they had been given, two shots or one, and the date it was injected.

Mr Stewart said he agreed it was inevitable countries would seek to bring in vaccine passports in the global race to achieve herd immunity.