OMDDAC Submits Evidence to Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee: Covid-19 Vaccine Certification

OMDDAC has responded to a call for evidence from the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, which has launched an inquiry to consider potential ethical, legal and operational issues and the efficacy and appropriateness of a Covid-19 vaccine certificate system.

OMDDAC’s submission is based primarily on interviews with key stakeholders from a range of sectors. It covers the monitoring of enforcement of Covid-19 criminal offences, data quality and hidden crimes, access by the police to public health data, and public protest.

Executive Summary:

  • Our project interviews raised concerns that vaccine certification risks becoming a ‘surrogate for discrimination’ leading to ‘coercion by the backdoor’, with an individual’s ‘medical status becom[ing] publicly interrogable.’ Furthermore, there are equality issues such as digital poverty to consider in the event that a technological approach to certification is implemented. Local knowledge has been fundamental to overcoming testing and vaccination concerns within local communities.
  • From a pragmatic perspective, consideration must be given to whether vaccine passports will logistically deliver on the stated objectives given their ‘transitional value’.
  • Lessons learned from the data-driven response to the pandemic to date indicate fundamental issues around the underlying data itself, firstly in terms of the sharing or disclosure of the required data to enable local bodies to manage an appropriate local response, and secondly in relation to the quality of the data. 
  • The following fundamental concerns must be addressed in advance: who must be provided with access to the data to enable the required response; what data needs to be provided and in what format; and crucially what specific purpose would the sharing of this data be seeking to achieve? These issues are still to be addressed satisfactorily.
  • It will be crucial to clarify the role of policing and enforcement in relation to any proposed vaccine certification or ‘passport’ to prevent an erosion of public trust in the scheme.