Private businesses will be the drivers of vaccine passport requirements, not the U.S. government, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.
"I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept," Fauci told the "Politico Dispatch," The Hill reported. "They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is gonna be the leading element of that."
Vaccine passports are proposed in Europe to restrict non-vaccinated citizens from traveling to or from certain places. President Joe Biden's White House has been discussing the implementation of a program in the U.S., but Fauci believes vaccine requirements will wind up being more likely to be utilized by "individual entities," restaurants, theaters, or sports arenas.
"I'm not saying that they should or that they would, but I'm saying you could foresee how an independent entity might say, 'Well, we can't be dealing with you unless we know you're vaccinated,'" Fauci said. "But it's not going to be mandated from the federal government."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week during a daily press briefing, there will be "no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential."
Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has already moved to ban governmental agencies from requiring vaccines or private businesses mandating proof of vaccination, signing an executive order last week.
"Today I issued an executive order prohibiting the use of so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports," DeSantis wrote in a statement on Twitter. "The Legislature is working on making permanent these protections for Floridians and I look forward to signing them into law soon.
"It's completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society."
Notorious blue state New York has launched its Excelsior Pass, which is smart-phone app the carries proof of vaccination.
Republicans have decried the hypocrisy of talk of mandating vaccine passports to permit free travel for Americans, while Democrats refuse to back voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, as was passed by Georgia lawmakers and led to Atlanta losing the All-Star Game in a protest of liberal activism by Major League Baseball.
Democrats are conspicuously silent on the inequities of vaccination programs with regard to pushing vaccine passports, and even the World Health Organization noted the potential bias involved.
"If access to vaccine is [unequal], then inequity and unfairness can be further branded into the system," WHO Health Emergencies Program Executive Director Mike Ryan said March 8, Business Insider reported.
Britain is testing a system of "COVID-status certification" — often dubbed "vaccine passports" — that would allow people seeking to travel or attend events to show they either have received a coronavirus vaccine, tested negative for the virus, or recently had COVID-19 and therefore have some immunity.
A series of events will start this month, including soccer matches, comedy shows, and marathon races. The government said the first events will rely only on testing, "but in later pilots vaccination and acquired immunity are expected to be alternative ways to demonstrate status."
Conservative legislator Graham Brady said vaccine passports would be "intrusive, costly and unnecessary." The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, called the idea "un-British."
The government said vaccine passports were all but unavoidable, since many countries were certain to demand proof of COVID-19 status for entry. And it said barring British businesses from asking customers for similar proof would be "an unjustified intrusion on how businesses choose to make their premises safe."
The government said, however, vaccine passports would never be needed to access "essential public services, public transport, and essential shops."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged vaccine passports raised "complicated ethical and practical issues" and stressed their introduction was not imminent.
"We're some way off finalizing any plans for COVID-certification in the U.K.," he said.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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