Gove to lead review into possible use of vaccine passports

Emma Bowden and Sam Blewett

Michael Gove has been tasked with leading a review into the possible use of vaccine passports as part of the road map for releasing England’s coronavirus lockdown.

Boris Johnson announced the Cabinet Office minister would head up the review as the Prime Minister acknowledged the “deep and complex issues” surrounding the introduction of immunity certificates.

Senior officials, including the Government’s vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, have frequently appeared to dismiss the idea of introducing vaccine passports in the UK.

But announcing his road map on Monday, Mr Johnson confirmed that a study into the use of vaccine and testing certificates will be one of four reviews conducted as part of easing the current restrictions.

Speaking at a school in south London on Tuesday, the Prime Minister told reporters that the introduction of vaccine passports should not discriminate against those who opt out of receiving the jab.

“There are deep and complex issues that we need to explore, and ethical issues about what the role is for Government in mandating or for people to have such a thing or indeed in banning from people doing such a thing,” he said.

“We can’t be discriminatory against people who for whatever reason can’t have the vaccine. There might be medical reasons why people can’t have a vaccine.

Coronavirus – Tue Feb 23, 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a meeting with teachers in the library during a visit to Sedgehill School in Lewisham, south east London, on Tuesday (PA Wire)

“Or some people may generally refuse to have one. I think that’s mistaken, I think everybody should have a vaccine, but we need to thrash all this out.”

While the rollout of the vaccination programme continues across the UK, Mr Johnson said he wanted to see a “proper review” into the issue.

“That’s going to be led by Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who will be getting the best scientific, moral, philosophical, ethical viewpoints on it and will work out a way forward,” he said.

“The fervent libertarians will reject but other people will think there’s a case for it.”

The four reviews are investigating matters on which ministers do not currently feel they have enough data or information.

The findings of the vaccine passport probe are hoped to be available before stage four of the lockdown easing on June 21 is reached, the earliest date by which ministers hope all restrictions can be lifted.

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