Digital Covid Certificates as Immunity Passports: An Analysis of Their Main Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry (4):1-8 (2022)
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Digital COVID certificates are a novel public health policy to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. These immunity certificates aim to incentivize vaccination and to deny international travel or access to essential spaces to those who are unable to prove that they are not infectious. In this article, we start by describing immunity certificates and highlighting their differences from vaccination certificates. Then, we focus on the ethical, legal, and social issues involved in their use, namely autonomy and consent, data protection, equity, and international mobility from a global fairness perspective. The main conclusion of our analysis is that digital COVID certificates are only acceptable if they meet certain conditions: that they should not process personal data beyond what is strictly necessary for the aimed goals, that equal access to them should be guaranteed, and that they should not restrict people’s autonomy to access places where contagion is unlikely. We conclude that, if such conditions are guaranteed, digital COVID certificates could contribute to mitigating some of the most severe socioeconomic consequences of the pandemic.

Author Profiles

Jon Rueda
University of Granada


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