On the same day as the OECD meeting, the governments of 21 African countries quietly embraced a vaccine passport system, which will apparently link up with other global systems.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will promote the unification of the different COVID passport systems in the world, said Spain’s Minister of Tourism and Industry, Reyes Maroto, at a gathering of OECD governments in Ibiza on Friday (Jan 8). Thirty-six countries, as well as international organizations, participated in the event, which was aimed at creating a multilateral framework for establishing a global vaccine passport regime. Such a step is necessary, said Maroto, in order to prevent “distrust and confusion” among international travellers.
Private Partnerships Leading the Way
As I reported in early March, in the article Are Vaccine Passports About to Go Totally Global?, an assortment of private partnerships are working behind the scenes to harmonize vaccine passport standards and systems at a global level. They include the Vaccine Credentials Initiative (VCI™), with backing from the U.S. government contractor MITRE Corporation, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Oracle, Sales Force and Mayo Clinic; the Commons Project Foundation (the World Economic Forum and Rockefeller Foundation) and the Good Health Pass Collaborative (Mastercard, IBM, Grameen Foundation and the International Chamber of Commerce).
After publicly opposing vaccine passports for more than a year, the World Health Organization also appears poised to lend its endorsement. In February, T-Systems, the IT services arm of Deutsche Telekom, announced in a press release that it had been chosen by WHO as an “industry partner” in the introduction of digital vaccine passports. The e-documents will be a standard procedure not only for COVID-19 vaccines but also “other vaccinations such as polio or yellow fever” as well as presumably other vaccines that come on line in the future. T-Systems already has experience in this area, having helped to make the vaccine passport systems in Europe interoperable.
The Indonesian presidency of the G-20 is also conducting “pilot projects” to make the different vaccine passport systems being used around the world interoperable, Moroto told participants at the OECD meeting. The work is scheduled to be finished by the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in November in Kuala Lumpur, where the measures are expected to receive the necessary political backing.
Such a statement raises a number of questions. How many countries outside of the West’s rapidly diminishing sphere of influence will be willing to go along with a plan hatched largely by governments in the West to control global travel? Moscow, for starters, is unlikely to sign up. Just last week the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov walked out of a G20 meeting after Russia was accused of exacerbating the global food crisis. What about China, which NATO recently declared a security challenge for the first time?
More important still, what is the point of creating a global vaccine passport regime when, as we have seen over the past year, said passports offer zero hope of controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus, because the vaccines themselves are non-sterilizing? In fact, there is growing evidence that vaccine passports may actually be exacerbating rather than reducing transmission of the virus, by propagating a false sense of security among vaccinated people leading many of them to let down their guard. Despite all this, Africa, the least vaccinated continent on the planet, is also embracing vaccine passports…
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