The International Debate Over Vaccine Passports Is Intensifying

Israel has already rolled them out, and the European Union is poised to follow suit

Elad Simchayoff
Medium Coronavirus Blog
6 min readMar 5, 2021

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Photo: Lukas via Unsplash

In recent weeks, Israel has started rolling out two types of digital certificates related to Covid-19 immunity. One is the “immunity certificate,” which is a confirmation that the holder received two vaccine doses and is thus immune. This confirmation will allow people to lead an almost regular, pre-Covid-19 way of life.

A person with an Israeli immunity certificate can eat in a restaurant, work out at the gym, or see a play in the theater. They would still need to wear a mask while doing so, but they are no longer required to self-isolate if they make contact with a person who’s ill.

The second type of certificate is the “green passport,” which is more of a “wishful thinking” type of initiative. It is issued to people who were vaccinated with two doses and is intended to allow international travel to countries that limit entry only to people who are immune. The Israeli government is hoping to secure agreements with other countries and allow travel with the green passport. It hasn’t been able to do that yet. Many nations around the world, like the United States and the United Kingdom, are still debating, but the European Union said this week that it would propose its own vaccine passport system.

The idea of a vaccine passport is highly controversial. In addition to creating an opportunity for a black market for counterfeits, they pose scientific, technological, and ethical difficulties.

The black market

Already, there’s an Israeli Telegram group called “Green Passport Immunity certificate.” It has over 41,000 members and one specific aim: The group’s admins are selling fake green passports or immunity certificates to anyone in need.

“Demand is very high,” one message said. “Many are interested in buying. There’s no pressure, we have a hard-working staff and many happy customers. You’ll get an immunity certificate even if you weren’t vaccinated.” According to the updated price list, you can get one passport for 1,000 NIS ($300 USD), two passports for 1,400 NIS ($420), six passports for 2,500 NIS ($750), and so on.

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Elad Simchayoff
Medium Coronavirus Blog

I love writing about what I love. Israeli/British. Father, husband, dog person. Support me by joining Medium via this link: https://eladsi.medium.com/membership