We're told that about three quarters of the British people would welcome the introduction a Vaccine Pass. Superficially it seems a good idea. People can go to venues confident that the others there had protection, companies running events would be able to get back into business, and our access to "fun" would be expanded.
However closer inspection shows these hopes to be spurious. Having been vaccinated may reduce someone's chancres of suffering severely from the virus if they catch it, but it doesn't prevent them from actually being infected and passing it on. So any meeting with another person, vaccinated or not, still stands a chance of spreading the plague. Hence the continued instance on social distancing.
Secondly we are in a situation where, apart from exceptions, the under 50s are not yet vaccinated and not likely to be for several months. Vaccination certificates would therefore introduce a rather bizarre two-tier system: these "fun" events would become accessible to the middle-aged and elderly but unavailable to the 20 and 30-year-olds who actually want to go to them. (Yes, I know: that is a generalisation too far: I have two friends almost in my age group who still go to "music" festivals.)
And even when vaccination has been made available to everyone who wants it, there will remain exceptions of people who for medical or other reasons shouldn't or don't want to be vaccinated.
Elderly innocents such as myself assume that these certificates if introduced will be on a piece of cardboard, or plastic, like our bus passes. Not so.
Apparently. they will be an "App" on a smartphone which will require facial recognition, bar-codes and all sorts of other things in the wonderful world of technology. Many of my generation will self-exclude simply becasue we can't be bothered, or CBA, as I believe is now the technical term.
So why go to all this trouble and expense for something that has so few, if any, advantages, and very evident disadvantages?
The government's attitude is strange. The Downing Street "spin doctors" assure us that Prime Minister Johnson is a liberal (small "l") at heart, or even a libertarian. Cabinet Minister Michael Gove told us last December that vaccine passports were "not being planned" and a month later Health Secretary Matt Hancock declared we "are not a papers-carrying country."
Yet, as blogger Ian Dunt reveals here, eight different pilot schemes have received grants worth a total of £450 000 to explore the possibility of getting vaccination certificate schemes up and running.
Dunt doesn't say so, but I suspect there are also enterprising firms lobbying the government hard to have such scheme accepted nationally in the hope of massive bungs of public money to be the preferred provider.
This week PM Johnson has assured us that if such a scheme were implemented it would be "time limited." Given his record on veracity we can't place much reliance on that.
As Dunt points out: "Governments don't typically give up this kind of power once they have it,."
Acceptance of vaccine passports would almost certainly be a first step to compulsory ID cards. For once I am able to quote Mrs Thatcher (albeit in another context) with enthusiasm:
"No, no, no."