Immunity Passports: A proposal to revive tourism, international trade and transport

    Immunity Passports: A proposal to revive tourism, international trade and transport

    Sunday, 12 April 2020
    This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.

    An ‘Immunity Passport’ is a digital document which is internationally recognised and which proves the holder has undergone (at least) one serological test showing that their blood contains antibodies which has allowed the person (at a moment in the past, most often without knowing it) to eliminate the coronavirus. As a result, the person is neither infected nor contagious at the present time.

    The passport is based on the identity and the immunological status of the holder. The immunological status of each person can easily be established by means of a serological test (which seeks antibodies in the blood) which some countries are already planning to implement.

    In this context, states need to cooperate to standardise the serological tests and certify the resulting Immunity Passports. These will be electronically attached to the regular passport used by each traveller to simplify verification and prevent fraud.

    Numbers of travellers concerned

    The Immunity Passport concerns millions of travellers from all countries who are immunised against coronavirus and so present no risk of contagion, but who currently cannot freely travel because of restrictions imposed by countries worldwide seeking to control the spread of the virus.

    With the process of collective immunisation which is continuing, though slowly in the absence of a vaccination, the number of immunised people in the world will continue to increase until the end of the pandemic.

    It is estimated that the end of an epidemic is reached when at least 50% of the population has become immunised. A pandemic is an epidemic that spreads to many countries.

    Key ideas

    There are two key ideas:

    1- The necessity of ending this paralysing and costly aberration in which, through fear of imported contagion, a country imposes the same indiscriminate treatment – entry bans or forced quarantine for at least 14 days – for all travellers seeking entry, whether or not they are contagious  while there is now a reliable and practical way to distinguish those who are possibly contagious (not immunised) from those who are not (immunised).

     2- The costs of a serological test to establish the immunological status of each person – to know if they are possibly contagious or not – will be only a few euros, well below the costs of a 14-day quarantine, to say nothing of the waste of time and the loss of professional opportunities that it entails.

    Aims of the Immunity Passport 

    In current circumstances, with no end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, the aim of the Immunity Passport is the reviving of tourism, international transport and trade, and a recovery in the world economy, or at least the prevention of a severe recession.

    The adoption of an immunity passport will allow planes to return to the skies, hotels and restaurants to reopen and life to begin to return to normal.

    By Sam Rainsy
    Former Minister of Finance of Cambodia
    Founder and interim leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party