Vaccine passports will do little to stop coronavirus transmission at festivals, but should still be considered anyway to increase uptake in young people, scientists advising the Government have said.
A newly released paper by the Environmental Modelling Group (EMG) shows that researchers admit that vaccine passes have a “limited impact” on the spread of the virus because even vaccinated people can have breakthrough infections, and immunity wanes over time.
However, they argue that they could be used as a “policy lever” to improve the number of young people being vaccinated.
The paper, which was submitted to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said: “Although vaccinated individuals are less likely than others to be infectious, it is important to recognise that, whilst protection against severe disease is very high, protection against infection is incomplete and that breakthrough infections can still lead to onward transmission.
“Emerging evidence shows that protection against infection wanes over time, the longer the duration since attendees last Covid vaccination, the less indicative vaccination status could be of protection against infection.
“For these reasons vaccine certification, per se, is likely to have a limited impact on reducing transmission at festivals. However, it should be noted that the introduction of vaccine certification has been linked to increased vaccine uptake.
“Given higher vaccine complacency in certain groups, such as youth who perceive lower risks of infection, this intervention could be an additional policy lever to increase vaccine uptake and population level immunity.”
Passports for mass events
Passports have long argued that even fully vaccinated people are capable of catching and transmitting the virus and so certification should not be used to stop people from attending events or travelling.
But it is the first time that government scientists have admitted that they could be used primarily for forcing people to be vaccinated, rather than to stop the spread of the virus.
France introduced vaccine passes for a similar reason, after 60 per cent of its population said they would refuse to get vaccinated.
In the week Emmanuel Macron announced that passes would be needed to visit cinemas, museums, restaurants and bars, millions of people booked their jabs.
Since then, the country has caught up with the rest of Europe and now has similar vaccine levels.
In December, Boris Johnson briefly introduced vaccine passports for large indoor and outdoor events as part of Plan B measures to control the omicron surge, but the policy has now been removed.
However, this new report suggests that the Government is once again considering passports for mass events such as summer festivals.