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With the world being told that so-called ‘vaccine passports’ will be required for all international travel in future, and in many countries even to enter shops, restaurants, bars, gyms, hotels, theatres, concerts and sports events, the impression we are being given is that the measure is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. In Europe, however, which hosts 8 of the top 10 pharmaceutical exporting countries, planning for vaccine passports began at least 20 months prior to the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Apparently, the pandemic conveniently provided European politicians with the ‘excuse’ they needed to introduce the idea.
The ‘European Commission’ – the executive body of Europe – first published a proposal for vaccine passports on 26 April 2018. Buried deep in a document dealing with ‘Strengthened Cooperation against Vaccine Preventable Diseases’, the proposal was essentially ignored by the mainstream media.
A roadmap document issued in early 2019 subsequently set out specific plans for implementing the European Commission’s proposal. The primary action listed in the roadmap was to “examine the feasibility of developing a common vaccination card/passport” for European citizens that is “compatible with electronic immunization information systems and recognized for use across borders.” The plan aimed for a legislative proposal to be issued in Europe by 2022.
Interestingly, the roadmap uses several terms that, while relatively uncommon in most countries prior to the pandemic, have since become heard on a daily basis in the mainstream media. Perhaps the most notable of these is ‘vaccine hesitancy’. Supporting European countries in “countering vaccine hesitancy” is listed in the document as one of the key action points.
The possibility of pandemics and “unexpected outbreaks” occurring is also referred to in the roadmap. Revealingly, specific reference is made to supporting the authorization of “innovative vaccines, including for emerging health threats.” Stating that the “vaccine manufacturing industry” has a “key role” in meeting the aims described in the document, the roadmap lists “improving EU manufacturing capacity” and stockpiling vaccines as further action points to be considered. Towards strengthening “existing partnerships” and “collaboration with international actors and initiatives,” the roadmap also refers to a global vaccination summit meeting that took place in September 2019.