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Potential promise of COVID-19 digital immunity passports

COVID-19 digital immunity passports have been the fodder of recent discussion in the U.S. (Forbes, CNN) and around the world (Schengen Visa Info, BBC News) as countries have tried to reinvigorate travel and tourism industries decimated by the pandemic. The exact form and format—from paper to electronic—as well as scientific basis (e.g. antibody testing versus vaccination status) – is still being debated, but the concept seems to be gaining momentum.

To better understand how physicians viewed the potential promise of COVID-19 digital immunity passports, Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, Duke University School of Medicine and colleagues, analyzed de-identified data from a survey among 1,000+ Sermo members on the topic. The study revealed that many physicians are skeptical about the benefits of passports. 

Of note:

  • 52% of doctors did not believe in the utility of immunity passports; 17% were uncertain
  • U.S. physicians were significantly more likely to say “No” (60.3%) than both European (47.2%) and ROW doctors (49.5%)
  • Older doctors and female doctors were also more likely to say “No.” The skepticism rose as high as 80% among older U.S. female physicians.

“Immunity passports are a double edged sword,” said Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Medicine at Duke. “Facilitating travel is vital for the global economy and wellbeing. But we need to ensure this is based on sound science and does not worsen societal inequities. Our survey provides a reality check for policy makers.”   

To explore more insights from the study, check out this report published in the Journal of Health and Social Sciences“Are we ready for COVID-19’s golden passport? Insights from a global physician survey,” written by P. Murali Doraiswamy, Mohan Chilukuri, Alexandra R. Linares and Katrina A. Bramstedt.