Vaccine passports could actually be counterproductive and fuel the spread of coronavirus, leaked government research suggests.
In documents seen by the Telegraph, the government’s impact assessment warns that vaccine passports could be “counterintuitive and potentially counterproductive,” because they will deter people from using larger, more ventilated venues.
The research, compiled by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), warns that the public may flock to smaller, poorly ventilated venues – such as pubs – if access to larger venues becomes more difficult.
It also raises concerns that stadiums would not be able to hire the 5,000+ extra staff required to complete sufficient vaccine passport checks.
“A core concern in the sector is that certification could displace activity and business away from music venues to, say, pubs with music and late alcohol licenses, etc which could be counterintuitive and potentially counterproductive,” the document says, according to The Telegraph.
“Similarly, if certification displaces some fans from structured and well-ventilated sports stadia this could lead to them attending unstructured and poorly ventilated pubs instead, where they will have access to more alcohol than if they were in the stadia.
“Evidence from the Euros showed spikes in cases associated with pubs even when England were playing abroad.”
The report comes just days after Scotland enforced its vaccine passport scheme, which was soon dubbed an “unmitigated disaster” by members of the hospitality sector.
The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) said that staff faced “intolerable levels of abuse” and some venues saw a drop in footfall of up to 40%. It called on the Scottish government to scrap the scheme, which came into place on October 18.
Proof of full vaccination is required to enter nightclubs and large events in Scotland. Similar plans were scrapped in England, but could still come into force if the government goes ahead with its contingency Plan B.
Dr Julian Tang, a consultant virologist and expert in respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester, previously explained why ventilation is so important in the fight against coronavirus.
“If the virus is in the air and you remove that contaminated air, you also remove the virus. This is what ventilation does,” he told HuffPost UK.
“Think about if you have a smoky room or burn the toast in the kitchen. Opening the windows dramatically lowers these contaminants, replacing bad air with fresh air. You can smell the impact almost immediately.”
Dr Tang previously contributed to a study on ventilation published by the World Health Organisation, which looked at the impact of opening windows in hospitals.
The research found window opening was associated with increased air flow and lower virus transmission rates – although the percentage decrease will be impacted by a number of factors, including the size of the room.
Nevertheless, Dr Tang said: “If you leave the windows open and continually refresh the air that people are breathing, this will make a massive difference.”
No, a stadium isn’t quite the same as a hospital room with the window open, but it may be better ventilated than your average pub – especially on busy nights.