Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Why We Must Oppose a Covid Health Pass

The rumors surrounding the introduction of a Covid-19 health pass are getting more or more concrete. There are signs that it likely will happen; France and UK are already considering it.

Though the details are still sketchy, it would be a kind of laissez-passer, which would allow only those in possession of it to visit places like cafes, restaurants, museums, exhibitions, etc. In order words, anyone without such a pass would still be denied access to all those establishments that were closed during the numerous lockdowns.
The first criticism of such a pass should be practical. One must assume that its purpose would be to guarantee that the person in possession it cannot contaminate others. But if a vaccine shot, or two, is enough to get a health pass, what about the one in ten people or so for which the vaccines are inefficient? What about the possibility that vaccinated people might still be able to transmit the disease? And if a negative PCR test will also be acceptable to get such a health pass then how frequently must one get a stick up one’s nose to keep having the right to go the restaurant? Such questions, and many more, hint at difficulties in making this an efficient barrier to the spread of the virus.

And what about all those young people who will be last in line to get the vaccine or who simply will choose not to? If and when governments will try to settle these and many other such questions, the consequence will inevitably be inequality of treatment.

Further, the inefficiency and incompetence with which many governments have dealt with the pandemic have been nothing short of scandalous. It would therefore not be a risky prediction to expect them to also bungle the introduction of such an ethically controversial and logistically complicated initiative. But the hubris of political power knows no bounds, so past failures will not prevent future ones.

Aside from these practical hurdles, it is difficult to understate the attack on personal liberty that such a health pass would constitute.

However, it would be na├»ve to see a health pass as an unprecedented measure that will destroy liberty in an otherwise free society. On the contrary, this measure is just another small step on the long road of increased State control of people’s lives, “for their own good”. It must be remembered that travel passports didn’t even exist for most international travel before 1914. The stated “necessity” for generalizing passports was the temporary “need” to control the identity of travelers in wartime. As everyone knows, they were never abolished. There are now advanced plans to launch a Covid-19 biometric data app.

Generally speaking, periods of crises have always provided opportunities for the State to increase its intervention in society, whether it be wars, depressions, pandemics or other types of crises. The last decades have seen economic liberalizations in several sectors. But at the same time, this period has also been the age of the welfare state, which has justified significant restrictions on individual liberty in the form of steadily increasing levels of taxation and increased dependence on the State.

The on-going discussions about a health pass fit perfectly into these two trends: a health crisis as opportunity on the one hand, and the overbearing welfare state on the other.

Unfortunately, this slow statist evolution is not obvious if one does not take an interest in it. The distinction, clear in theory, between the role of the State and that of the private owner, remains blurred in practice. The owner's right to decide who can access his property is generally recognized as a fundamental individual freedom. However, there is little opposition to the countless regulations that hamper the daily life of restaurant owners, for example, and prevent them from discriminating against their customers. With the introduction of a health pass, the State would also be able to have a say about who can be part of this clientele.

The reasons for implementing a health pass are certainly not related to health. The average age of death from Covid-19 is 82 years and the median age is around 85. The mortality rate for people under 60 is comparable to the seasonal influenza. From the beginning of the pandemic, targeted recommendations focused on risk groups, not general decrees applied to entire populations, should have been the favored approach from governments, not only from a libertarian point of view but also from a health perspective.

The introduction of a global digital identity has been discussed at the highest spheres of influence long before the current pandemic. It is part of The Great Reset that is currently being promoted by the World Economic Forum, which meets annually in Davos, Switzerland. The coronavirus pandemic has offered an exceptional opportunity to push Western majorities towards an acceptance of this type of unprecedented personal control.

It is obvious that such a future digital identity, as it concerns health, could be used for more than just identifying the absence of Covid-19 contagion. It does not seem far-fetched to think that it could be used to indicate to an individual the exhaustive and personalized list of goods and services to which he is entitled, or allowed, considering his state of health at any moment.

Arguments have been given here against a Covid-19 health pass. Now it is up everyone to do what is possible in order to prevent it from being introduced. The fight for preserving what remains of personal liberty in the West is continuing. It is necessary to oppose the never-ending incursions of the State against freedom.

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