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Chile, Germany, and the UK, among others, have indicated they will implement certifications that a person has contracted and recovered from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) or, in the future, has received a COVID-19 vaccine. Such policies have been discussed, but not implemented, in the US. However, if other countries require these certifications for entrance, the US may adopt them to enable travel, generating calls to use them more broadly.
Certifications of immunity are sometimes called “immunity passports” but are better conceptualized as immunity-based licenses. Such policies raise important questions about fairness, stigma, and counterproductive incentives but could also further individual freedom and improve public health.
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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.
Corresponding Author: Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD, Department Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 423 Guardian Dr, Blockley Hall, Ste 1412, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (MEHPchair@upenn.edu).
Published Online: May 6, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.8102
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Persad reported receiving grants from The Greenwall Foundation. Dr Emanuel reported receiving speaking fees from numerous entities, stock ownership in Nuna, investment partnership in Oak HC/FT, and receipt of grants from Hawaii Medical Service Association and Oscar Health.
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