Monday 30 November 2020 2:54 pm

Public may need immunity passport for ‘restaurants, bars, and cinemas’, says vaccine minister

The government is looking at ways to enable businesses to establish whether customers have received a coronavirus vaccine before allowing them onto their premises, the vaccine minister has announced. 

Nadim Zahawi, the business minister who was appointed vaccine tsar over the weekend, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “We are looking at the technology, and of course a way of people being able to inform GP if they have been vaccinated.”

“Restaurants, bars, cinemas and other venues, sports venues, will probably also use that system as they have done with the app,” he added.  

It comes after NHS Test and Trace boss Baroness Dido Harding over the weekend revealed plans to introduce immunity passports in a bid to return to normality.

Harding told an event organised by the Health Service Journal that her team was investigating Covid-19 passports for the NHS app.

She said it was her hope “in the future to be able to have a single record as a citizen of your test results and whether you’ve been vaccinated”.

“We are working very closely with the vaccine team to make sure that as we build tools that will enable people to be testing themselves at home and recording the results of their tests that we build an integrated data architecture,” added Harding.

NHS bosses are also mulling plans to launch a new campaign featuring “sensible” celebrities to help persuade the public to get the coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available.

Footballer Marcus Rashford is expected to join a slew of stars publicly rebuffing so-called anti-vaxxers, as the NHS prepares to start vaccinating the most vulnerable members of public in the coming weeks.

Speaking to the BBC this afternoon, Zahawi added that it was “incumbent” upon social media platforms such as Facebook and Google to clamp down on anti-vaxxer content.

“I want to make sure that the digital platforms — the Googles, the Facebooks, the Twitters of this world — that they are doing this work, because this is something that obviously doesn’t just concern the UK but the whole world,” the vaccine minister added.

Asked how soon the UK might expect a vaccine on the NHS, Zahawi said: “We’re ready to go… We’ve got to make sure that the regulator’s happy. And then we will begin almost immediately, because we’re ready from the NHS side.”

Final results published this afternoon from the trials of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine confirmed  it has 94 per cent efficacy with no serious side effects, kickstarting the approval process with regulators around the world.

The UK has bought 7m doses of the vaccine, including a 5m dose agreement struck on the day Moderna announced its interim result of 94.5 per cent efficacy, and a further 2m last week.