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Vaccine Passports | Munk Debates

SEASON TWO - EPISODE #23

Vaccine Passports

Be it resolved, vaccine passports are essential to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and safely reopen our economies.

Guests
Ezekiel Emanuel
Natalie Kofler

About this episode

As people around the world begin to contemplate life after COVID-19, governments are trying to figure out how to re-open their economies safely while the virus continues to circulate. Some countries, like Israel and Denmark, have introduced digital vaccine passports to allow residents access to indoor spaces like restaurants and movie theatres. Those in favour of these certificates argue that they are the safest, easiest, and most effective way of reopening the economy quickly. Citizens should only be allowed to participate in society if they can prove they aren’t a health risk to others. And while it is true that everyone has the right to forgo vaccination, they must also accept the limitations and consequences that come with that choice.

Critics see these passports as a coercive scheme that forces people to get vaccinated, as well as a dangerous threat to personal rights and freedoms that will exacerbate society’s inequities and transfer more power into the hands of the government. The state, they say, has no right to mandate personal movements based on a medical treatment, and vaccine passports have no place in any democratic and free society.

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Guests

Ezekiel Emanuel

“We have long had policies of vaccine certification, and we're simply adapting those to the new 21st century and COVID.”

Ezekiel Emanuel

“We have long had policies of vaccine certification, and we're simply adapting those to the new 21st century and COVID.”

Ezekiel J. Emanuel is the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor, and Co-Director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. From January 2009 to January 2011, Dr. Emanuel served as a Special Advisor on Health Policy to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council. Prior to that he was the founding chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health from 1997 to August of 2011.

Dr. Emanuel received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in political philosophy from Harvard University. Dr. Emanuel served on President Clinton's Health Care Task Force, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), and on the bioethics panel of the Pan-American Healthcare Organization. He has published over 300 articles mainly on health care reform, research ethics, and end of life care in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, JAMA, and many other medical journals. He has also authored or edited 15 books. His new book entitled Which Country Has the World’s Best Health Care? was published in June. Dr. Emanuel is the most widely cited bioethicist in history. 

Natalie Kofler

“'Vaccine passports' add another layer of disenfranchisement and inequity towards people and countries that have been disproportionately impacted by serious issues in vaccine distribution.”

Natalie Kofler

“'Vaccine passports' add another layer of disenfranchisement and inequity towards people and countries that have been disproportionately impacted by serious issues in vaccine distribution.”

Natalie Kofler is a trained molecular biologist who now works at the intersection of science and society. Her work is fueled by a desire to transform scientific culture and make science more representative of the communities it's meant to serve. She leads curriculum development and is a strategic advisor for the Scientific Citizenship Initiative at Harvard Medical School and is a visiting fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.  She is also the founding director of Editing Nature - a global initiative to steer responsible development and deployment of genetic technologies. 

Natalie is a leading voice in technology justice and governance. Her work has been featured by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, CBC, CNN, Science, Nature, NPR, and National Geographic. She served as a resident scholar in sustainability at the University of Illinois and a visiting scholar at The Hastings Center. She teaches Environmental Ethics and Justice at the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Harvard Medical School. She received her PhD in cellular, molecular, and medical biosciences and MS in human nutrition and metabolic studies from Columbia University and her BS in human anatomy and cell biology from McGill University. 

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