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CPLB Dilemma #3: the ethics of immunity passports

April 2 2021

The third edition of CPLB Dilemmas is now online. This edition discusses the ethics of immunity passports, documentation of immunity against COVID-19 that governments or businesses may require as a condition of access to spaces or services.

After an overview of the dilemma by CPLB’s Nir Eyal and Monica Magalhaes, Ruth W. Grant of Duke University provides a different perspective on the problem, according to which political polarization around pandemic response is key to the likely outcomes of an immunity passport program, and therefore to their desirability. David Enoch and Netta Barak-Corren of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem then give an overview of the concerns around the use of immunity passports that they identified in a comprehensive working paper on Israel’s pioneering “green passport” program. Binghamton University’s Nicole Hassoun argues that the benefits of immunity passports are uncertain, and the burden of justification is still on the proponents of such programs. CPLB’s Mark Budolfson closes the debate with the view that immunity passports may not go far enough, as during a bad pandemic governments can permissibly require vaccination.

Dilemmas is a section of the CPLB website devoted to conversations on pressing normative questions of health policy and population health. Dilemmas will bring together contributions from a diversity of disciplinary perspectives, including those of population-level bioethics, medicine, epidemiology, economics, health policy, philosophy, law, and others. Rather than attempting to converge on a consensus, the goal is to think together about a hard question relating to ethics and health.