Europe is deploying COVID-19 passport. Why not the United States?

Editor’s Note: Bradley Blankenship is an American journalist, political analyst and independent reporter based in Prague. The article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of CGTN.

On June 9, the European Parliament finally approved the so-called COVID-19 European passport, which is expected to work from July 1 ahead of a much-anticipated summary travel season. The EU’s COVID digital certificate will help the bloc’s 27 member states coordinate travel seamlessly for travelers who can prove they are vaccinated, tested or have suffered COVID-19, which should be both a huge victory for the continent’s struggling tourism industry and for EU solidarity.

Despite the reluctance of Europeans to get vaccinated, the scale of anti-restriction sentiment in the bloc and the “civil liberty” objections of those who oppose the idea of ​​a COVID-19 passport, MEPs approved the regulation with 546 votes to 93 and 51 abstentions for EU citizens, and with 553 against 91 and 46 abstentions for third country nationals.

The question now remains as to how successfully this will be implemented in practice and whether it will be able to revitalize tourism, but all signs seem positive.

Other countries around the world have implemented similar digital health certificates, such as China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, but it begs the question of why, for example, the United States is not following. As I mentioned earlier, the EU and US have tended to reflect on various scenarios related to COVID-19, so it would make sense for the US to move forward on this issue after how the EU was able to move forward.

However, so far, President Joe Biden’s administration has resisted the development of a nationwide COVID-19 passport, largely due to the controversy it would cause. Some states in the United States like New York and California have implemented their own versions of a COVID-19 passport, while other states like Florida and Texas have banned them outright.

If that wasn’t obvious, there’s a clear partisan hurdle here: Republican-led states are against them, Democratic-led states are for them, and it’s clear Biden doesn’t want to get into the mix. . It reflects the same kind of political cowardice that is already fueling Biden’s broader political agenda.

Memorials hang from the front door of Greenwood Cemetery during an event and procession hosted by Naming the Lost Memorials to remember and celebrate the lives of those killed by the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, USA, June 8, 2021. / Getty

Memorials hang from the front door of Greenwood Cemetery during an event and procession hosted by Naming the Lost Memorials to remember and celebrate the lives of those killed by the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, USA, June 8, 2021. / Getty

Neutrality on this issue from the federal government is stupid because the “civil liberties” argument against COVID-19 passports, which Republican lawmakers use, makes no sense since no one is obligated to use them. All it does is provide a way to verify COVID-19 status (tested, recovered or vaccinated) so businesses can safely open and tourism can resume.

Republicans are essentially arguing that they don’t want standardized verification, which experts say will inevitably lead to the coronavirus finding new vectors as things open up again. If public health is the primary concern, then allowing states to take this position is nonsense.

At the same time, it will not only complicate things in the United States, but in fact, it will complicate matters in other countries. For example, the EU has said it will welcome vaccinated American tourists soon – and some member states have already done so. Without standardized verification, it could mean Americans could take bogus vaccination cards into the EU and cause new outbreaks of COVID-19 by unintentionally bringing the virus with them. Other countries that allow vaccinated Americans into entry could face similar dilemmas.

There is also the issue of people vaccinated in the United States who live abroad. Here in the Czech Republic, according to a June 9 Czech Radio report, some Czechs who have been vaccinated in the United States have been unofficially recommended by members of the country’s health ministry and one of the diplomatic offices in the United States. United to be vaccinated again in the Czech Republic – although the vaccines offered in the United States are also approved by the European Medicines Agency. This is a pretty absurd situation that would be easily rectified by a US COVID-19 passport.

Now, to his credit, Biden has encouraged the private sector to develop a COVID-19 passport for use in the country – but it raises so many other issues – for example, privacy, cybersecurity or even the controversy over which cartels American technology companies oversee its development. Leaving this matter to the private sector makes no sense and it shows once again how toxic American politics is when the federal government can’t do even the simplest things.

(If you would like to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected])

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