From Data-Driven Medicine

Covid and Society: The implications of immunity passports

This webinar, a part of the SER Seminar Series, was delivered by Richard Milne

Covid and Society: The implications of immunity passports

9th July 2020

An audience of over 80 Wellcome Genome Campus employees logged on to Richard’s Webinar, a part of the SER Seminar Series hosted remotely during Covid-19 home working.

Excerpt of presentation:

“Every epidemic, every pandemic, has presented new challenges and created new roles – for the public, for governments, clinicians, companies, and scientists – the cartoon on this slide, is taken from the Wellcome Images collection, and shows – not entirely sympathetically – officials of the London Board of Health “tracking and tracing” cases of cholera in 1832, suggesting they are as motivated by their 20 guineas a day as by their concern for public health.

This presentation focuses on one aspect of what the Ada Lovelace Institute describes as the “new public health identity” emerging through the Covid crisis – an identity emergent from our interaction with a combination of digital, medical, immunological and genomic tools and information.

I’m focusing on the case of so-called ‘immunity passports’, with the aim of introducing the idea and some of the debates around it.

First, I want to fill in a bit of background – much of which may be familiar, but which sets the scene for discussion of immunity passports or certificates.

I’ll then discuss what’s meant by immunity passports, and their potential value

Finally, I’ll discuss some of the ethical and scientific challenges associated with immunity certification.”

For more details please see the following blog:


Related Link:


Milne R (2020). Covid and Society: The implications of immunity passports. Invited speaker as a part of the Society and Ethics Research Seminar Webinar Series. 9 July. Online