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The reasons for imposing vaccine passports on the population do not currently stack up, the Health Secretary has said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been planning to make it mandatory for those attending nightclubs to have to be fully vaccinated, but the Government reversed on the policy.
Sajid Javid told a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference that he believed vaccine take-up in the UK was so strong that there was no need for the passport concept to be introduced as it had been elsewhere in Europe.
Watch: Prime Minister not ruling out possibility of imposing vaccine passports
In France, proof of being double jabbed must be shown before entering a restaurant or bar.
With concerns that, despite the Government’s U-turn, immunity passports could be needed if Covid-19 cases spike this winter, Mr Javid said his comments did not mean “there can’t ever be a role for such an intervention”.
But he said his opinion was that any justification for their introduction needed to pass over a “very high” bar.
The Health Secretary said: “I’m driven by the evidence and if you look at countries who have enforced vaccine passports – and you mention France and Italy as example – I think … their motivating factor was to significantly increase their vaccine take up rate.
“We have been much more fortunate when it comes to vaccine take-up in that the British public have been very supportive in general.
“There are pockets of hesitancy of course but we don’t have anything like the levels of hesitancy that you’ve seen in France and Italy, particularly in France.”
According to the Government’s Covid data, almost 90% of all those in the UK over the age of 16 have received a single dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with 82% double jabbed.
“Given we didn’t have that same issue (of vaccine hesitancy), I don’t think the evidence would have supported introducing vaccine passports for that reason,” he added.
“We’re in a much better situation today with the vaccines, the testing, the treatment.
“If we’re going to pretty much take away people’s freedom, you’ve got to have a really good reason to do it and I don’t think we have that reason at this point.”
But he refused to row back on his plan to make it mandatory for care workers to have to be fully vaccinated by next month if they are to continue in the profession.
Mr Javid accused those shunning the vaccine of being taken in by “ridiculous” internet conspiracy theories spouting “fake news”.
“For me, it is quite simple,” said the Cabinet minister.
“If you haven’t got the vaccine, if you haven’t been persuaded by it because you are listening to these ridiculous theories on the internet or on social media that are just completely fake news, then really at some point you are just going to have to leave and get another job because you can’t be looking after the most vulnerable people in society.”
During the hour-long Policy Exchange event, he also pushed back against the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) when asked about the group’s apparent “negative bias” when it came to its Covid impact analysis.
Mr Javid said: “They’re an independent group, they’re entitled to come to their own decisions and I’m entitled not to listen.”
He said he did not believe, if he had listened to Sage’s advice, that the Tory conference and other family gatherings would be taking place currently in what he called a “safe way” due to its caution about lifting coronavirus restrictions.
Watch: What is in the Government's winter Covid-19 plan?