COVID is a terrible disease.  I have seen it, treated patients with it and my family members are experiencing it right now.  My father-in-law, Len Mahon, is on the ventilator and both of my parents, Keith and Sharon Leap (in a separate state) are being treated in the hospital.

There are those who falsely claim that it isn’t bad, that it is fabricated.  I am saddened by that. While the majority of people with COVID-19 survive and make full recovery, for some it is a life-ending or at the least devastating disease. It has ended lives and crushed the healthcare system.  Many physicians, physicians in training, advanced practitioners, nurses, medics, housekeeping staff and others have perished.  Many more may be too emotionally (or physically) compromised to continue their careers.

Let me also say here that I have been vaccinated and that the vaccines are a wonderful development. I believe in them and I encourage others to be vaccinated.

However there are also those, on the opposite spectrum from those who deny or minimize the dangers, who believe that we should require vaccination or proof of infection before individuals are allowed to travel or go to public venues.  They would have us carry a kind of ‘vaccine passport,’ which would likely be tied to our smart-phones.

This, unlike vaccines, is a terrible idea.  We have not done this in recent memory.  Not with HIV (despite the ravages it has caused, albeit more slowly). We don’t do this with Tb (a thing which many new immigrants are at risk of transmitting).  We have never done it with Hepatits B or C, despite increases in IV use of heroin and methamphetamine.  We never did this with Ebola, although there were those predicting that it would cause world-wide devastation and death.  And we certainly didn’t do it when SARS (SARS-CoV-1) or the H1N1 strain of Influenza were raging and ending lives around the world.

We could have established passport programs for those diseases. Widespread tracking technology and phone usage isn’t exactly new. But we never did.

Given the politically volatile times we live in, such a ‘passport’ would be susceptible to terrible abuses.  First off, we all know from various government and credit-agency debacles that nobody’s data is really that secure.  The chance that our information will be accessed and misused is not insignificant.

Second, given the degree of social engineering that has infiltrated science and government, it is hardly hyperbole to suggest that at some point, not only would one’s health issues be recorded, but so would one’s political affiliations, online posts, groups contributed to, purchases made, hobbies and perhaps even religious affiliations.  (Doubtless all so that health care providers could understand us better. Well, doubtless it would be framed that way.)  This could easily morph into a system very similar to the Chinese Social Credit system, whereby one’s connections, opinions and activities are used to either allow or restrict travel, employment and can even be used to justify incarceration.

I hope that COVID-19 is in the rear-view mirror sooner rather than later.  But just as fervently, I hope that we don’t use it to make terrible mistakes in the way we record, track and ultimately control our citizenry.

Passports for travel are fine.   Passports for health?  Worrisome on far too many levels.

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