Vaccine passports: problem, or pass to normality?

Vaccine passports - a ticket to a life of foreign travel, nightlife and leisure...

Or a path to social exclusion?

Governments and developers around the world are exploring whether "vaccine passports" - to identify those inoculated against the coronavirus - could help to reopen their economies.

But those developing the technologies are urging lawmakers to think seriously about overcoming the obstacles to their use.

Biometrics company iProov, together with cyber security firm Mvine, received UK government funding to develop a vaccine pass that is now being tested within Britain's National Health Service.

Andrew Bud is iProov's founder and chief executive.

"I think there are huge issues. There are issues of discrimination. There are issues of two classes. There are issues of privilege. There are ageist issues because it's likely older people such as myself will get the vaccines before younger people, which means that the older people will have access to services and capabilities the young people are excluded from. So I think there are huge social and political issues raised by vaccines, and it is the role, I think, of civil society and governments to discuss and debate."

Here in Manchester, northern England, some 420,000 people are employed in the night-time economy.

Event organizers say that while socially distanced concerts and events have kept people in work, they aren't financially viable in the long run.

Sacha Lord is co-founder of the city's Parklife music festival. He says swiftly checking someone's level of protection would be a game-changer.

"You know, a gig isn't a gig, or a festival is not a festival, unless you're stood shoulder-to-shoulder with your friends, you're on the dance floor. You can't create the atmosphere. So those socially distanced gigs, they served a purpose, they kept people in jobs. But we have to look to get back to normal."

iProov's Bud points out that vaccine certificates are being rolled out in some countries, and in the United States, private-sector health passes have been used to admit people to sports events.

It's the developers' job to work out the technicalities, he says. Conversations about the political and social issues can't wait.

"This is going to happen and the question is, how should it be regulated? How should it be regulated, what limits should be placed on it, what are the boundaries of social acceptability? Those are real questions for civil society and for the government."