"Immunity Certificates": Social Repercussions of COVID-19

Across the UK, Health and Safety officials are considering the issuing of "immunity certificates." These would only be given to those who have recovered from COVID-19 and have adequate antibodies against it.

Now, let's think about this.

The intention of these "immunity certificates" is good: those with "immunity" could get back to normal life, which includes going back to work; the hope is that this would jumpstart the local economy again, then the national economy, and, eventually, the global economy.

Secondly, those with the proper amount of antibodies could help with creating a vaccine. In the future, those that have received the vaccine would also get a safety card of sorts saying so.

That's all very well and good.

Now, let's REALLY think about the social repercussions this would have on the many societies that are still struggling with a "new normal." When I read this article, the very first thing that popped into my head was Nathaniel Hawthorne's THE SCARLET LETTER. If you haven't read it, here's a (very) quick overview: Hawthorne depicts a society where criminals must wear letters on their clothing that represent their crime, whether real or perceived to be real, for all to see (such as "A" for "Adulterer").

This novel was written in 1850. Think about that for a second. 1850. Colonial America. 170 years ago.

Surely society has come a long way since then? Yes, of course...but, in some ways, not so much.

These "immunity certificates" have the potential to send us back to a place that isn't too far off from the philosophy behind Hawthorne's fictional society, and the mindset of Colonial America. Society would quickly be divided into "the Haves" and "the Have-Nots." A nasty racism and xenophobia has already sprung up against the Asian community; could we really be trusted with a system like this? In America's case, at least, we have proven that we most likely could not. Those without an "immunity certificate" could become synonymous with words like "unsafe," "unclean," and "contaminated." These words are just short steps away from "the Other," "dirty," and a dark emphasis on the word "Them." In short, those who do not have an "immunity certificate" or vaccination card could potentially be treated as second-class citizens.

And then there's the obvious: this practice seems to practically invite a black market to open up to produce counterfeit certificates and cards. That would cause an increase in crime.

Perhaps my take on this is on the negative side. But there's still a lot we don't know about COVID-19. New symptoms pop up every day. There are blurbs about new ways that it can spread and how long it can live on certain materials. It's a novel disease -- we need more studies on it to be done. It seems too early to start a program that could potentially be so polarizing, and detrimental to society and its structure.

What do you think? If you'd like to read the full article I'm referencing, go to https://reason.com/2020/04/02/covid-19-immunity-passports/.

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