Moral Maze

Conditions on living in a post-vaccine world

The Covid vaccine has given us a ‘roadmap’ out of the lockdown but it also provides us with a whole new set of moral conundrums. The virus will likely be with us forever, so the question becomes: how will we live with it in the medium and long-term? We’ve all accepted conditions on our daily lives, with the view that they would be temporary, but should we have to get used to them? Downing Street says the idea of a "Covid passport" app is still under review. Should we make the ability to travel, socialise in public or even go to school and work conditional on having been vaccinated? Those in favour, say it’s a pragmatic route to normal life in a world of vaccine hesitancy. Others base their argument on the principles of safety and fairness: there is a good reason to treat people with immunity differently if they are not a risk to others. The 200,000+ people who signed a recent online petition urging the government not to introduce vaccine passports are worried about their impact on civil liberties and social cohesion. Sam Grant from the human rights organisation Liberty said they would, "create a two-tier society where some people can access support and freedoms, while others are shut out - with the most marginalised among us hardest hit." For many, conditionality is an issue of trust, fairness and proportionality; it is part of the give and take of the responsibilities and rights of citizens. In welfare, for example, they believe people should demonstrate their commitment to finding work in order to receive benefit payments. For others, conditionality undermines social cohesion, because it comes with an implicit sense of blaming victims. Rather than further stigmatising people by attaching conditions to their daily lives, they believe we need to understand better why they are not pursuing a particular course of action. What, if any, conditions should be applied to living in a post-vaccine world? With Silkie Carlo, Matthew Oakley, Prof Julian Savulescu and Dr Beth Watts.

Producer: Dan Tierney.

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