STEPHEN GLOVER: Enough! Give us Double Jabbers a passport to freedom

STEPHEN GLOVER: Enough! Give us Double Jabbers a passport to freedom

Whenever friends over a certain age meet one another, their first question is likely to be, ‘Have you been jabbed?’ or even, ‘Have you had both jabs?’

There may then follow a lively debate about the reputed advantages of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Whatever their preference, everyone is grateful to have been double-jabbed.

More than 28 million people, some 54 per cent of the UK adult population, have been. That figure increases daily as the vaccine roll-out proceeds apace. It won’t be long before three-quarters of the population have had two jabs.

But what will they have to show for it? Indeed, what advantages have accrued to those of us fortunate enough already to have received a double dose? A specific ‘jab dividend’ is hard to discern.

We who are among the 28 million-plus may walk down the street with a jaunty step. Panting joggers who come too close are no longer such a hazard.

More than 28 million people, some 54 per cent of the UK adult population, have been. That figure increases daily as the vaccine roll-out proceeds apace. But what will they have to show for it?

Entering a small shop crammed with people doesn’t feel like the dice with death it used to. In this respect there is a great bonus.

But so far as the Government is concerned, being double-jabbed confers absolutely no extra privileges. We are treated in exactly the same way as those who have had one jab, or none at all.

So if any of us should decide to visit one of those ‘amber’ European countries that are crying out for tourists, we double-jabbers must pay for a test before arriving back on British shores and then quarantine for ten days, during which time we have to self-administer two more tests at a cost of about £100 each.

The person who hasn’t had any vaccines — either on account of having refused them or because he or she is too young to have been offered one — is in precisely the same position as the double-jabber.

This was graphically illustrated yesterday, when the mostly fully vaccinated passengers on a cruise liner weren’t allowed to disembark in Greenock in Scotland.

In Nicola Sturgeon’s controlling mind there are no distinctions between the unjabbed and the double-jabbed, particularly if the latter are English.

Why shouldn’t the millions lucky enough to have received both vaccines enjoy some small benefit? Surely we double-jabbers deserve to be given an extra shove towards freedom

Why shouldn’t the millions lucky enough to have received both vaccines enjoy some small benefit? Surely we double-jabbers deserve to be given an extra shove towards freedom.

After all, the chances of becoming seriously ill are massively reduced for those twice vaccinated, and the likelihood of our passing on the virus if we do catch it is reckoned to decrease by at least half.

In fairness, I can think of one respectable reason for treating the vaccinated and the unvaccinated in the same way.

It is that, at least until recently, the young haven’t been offered a jab, and it is mean-spirited to discriminate against them when they aren’t at fault.

Some rightly point out that young people have had a hard time during the pandemic.

Usually at no great risk from the virus themselves, they have nonetheless suffered educational and economic upheavals as society has been closed down to protect those of more advanced years.

Wouldn’t this be vastly superior to our present muddled arrangements whereby the Government can whimsically decide, as it did last week, that Portugal is suddenly a dangerous country, even though its low infection rate is similar to the UK’s?

Why, it is asked, should the young suffer the further blow of being denied advantages which double-jabbers seek? Far better lump everyone together, and avoid invidious distinctions.

I wonder whether this is a morally sound argument, though. Is it right to deny freedom to those fortunate enough to have been twice vaccinated just because the young haven’t been vaccinated at all?

In any case, the question is fast becoming superfluous since people in their 20s are now being vaccinated at a furious rate. By September, all adults should have been offered two jabs.

So I believe all objections will soon fall away, and it will be entirely reasonable to favour those who have been double-vaccinated over those who have been offered a jab and declined to accept it.

This was the conclusion of a report published over the weekend by Tony Blair’s think-tank. It assumes that Covid-19 is likely to persist in the population, and therefore we must learn the best way of living with it that doesn’t involve endless lockdowns.

The former prime minister’s Institute for Global Change recommends an internationally recognised Covid passport. This would enable double-jabbers — who run a minimal risk to themselves and pose a much reduced threat to others — to travel.

Wouldn’t this be vastly superior to our present muddled arrangements whereby the Government can whimsically decide, as it did last week, that Portugal is suddenly a dangerous country, even though its low infection rate is similar to the UK’s?

Thousands of tourists had to rush home, at considerable cost to themselves.

The idiocy of the Government’s decision is confirmed by the news that only six out of 100,000 Covid tests carried out on British passengers at Faro airport have been positive.

The vast majority have presented no danger either to their Portuguese hosts, or their fellow Britons on their return.

In particular, why should double-jabbers in Portugal have been herded back to this country like cattle by an overzealous Government which appears to enjoy, rather too much for comfort, its draconian new powers over every aspect of our lives?

By the way, although I have often criticised Tony Blair, it’s impossible not to admire his contribution during the pandemic.

The sensible proponent of Covid passports was also an early advocate of prioritising first jabs. If only there were someone in the Government who could think so clearly.

The think-tank admittedly goes further. It controversially recommends that Covid passports be introduced not only to facilitate international travel but also to gain access to large events, and even restaurants.

Some will recall that, when he was PM, Mr Blair wanted to introduce identity cards. His detractors will suspect that his Covid passports are ID cards by another name.

But would they be? For as long as the pandemic lasts they would provide insurance to people going to nightclubs, football matches and cinemas that the person sitting or standing next to them had been double-jabbed, and so was less liable to pass on the virus.

I don’t believe this is too much to ask. Even if Covid passports aren’t introduced, I don’t see why a restaurant or pub shouldn’t put up a notice saying it expects all of its customers to have been vaccinated twice.

The minority who continue to decline a jab would risk exclusion from some public places. Many, though, would think again. The prospect of Covid passports would incentivise these people to have the vaccine — which would make them, and everyone else, much safer.

Oddly, the same Government that has grown used to micromanaging our lives, and applies endless restrictions to our freedoms, seems wary of such passports, possibly believing that they are divisive. I don’t believe they would be.

Alas, Freedom Day, scheduled for June 21, may well be postponed, and possible further lockdowns loom.

If the introduction of a proof of double vaccination made that less likely, wouldn’t most people be in favour?

Covid will be around for a long time. We are going to have to learn to live with it. It is hard to see how life can ever return to anything approaching normality without our accepting some form of Covid passport.

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