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As COVID vaccine passports become reality, Poles and Hungarians remain hesitant


Budapest, Hungary – Covid-19 vaccine passports are seen as the key to the post-pandemic recovery, but many are still sceptical about the scheme’s efficiency and fairness.

A new Ipsos survey for the World Economic Forum, published last month, examines the level of acceptance for Covid vaccine passports in 28 countries and highlights clear-cut differences across the world.

Hungarians and Poles among most sceptical on vaccine passports

While on average, about three in four adults find that vaccine passports should be required for travel and attending large public events, results widely vary from one country to the next, with Poles and Hungarians standing out as among the most sceptical regarding their wide-spread use.

A large majority (78%) agree that certificates proving people have been inoculated against Covid-19 should be required to enter a country, with the lowest shares found in Hungary (52%) and Poland (58%), followed by Russia, Belgium and France.

% of people who agree/disagree with the statement: “All travelers entering [COUNTRY] should be required to have a vaccine passport”. Source: Ipsos

The same goes with the organisation of large public events: while 67% of the world population believe Covid passports should be required, according to Ipsos, this is only the case for 47% of Hungarians, one of only two countries with Russia where fewer people agree than disagree, and 49% of Poles.

Only 52% of Hungarians agree that Covid certificates would make travel and large events safe, over 20 percentage points lower than the world average.

Furthermore, less than half (45%) of the Polish population believes that coronavirus passports will be widely used in their country by the end of the year – the third lowest rate in the world after Russia and Japan.

Finally, a majority of Poles (55%) and Hungarians (59%) oppose the use of such a scheme to enter shops, restaurants and the office. Only Russians (72% against) are more radically opposed to such a measure.

% of people who agree/disagree with the statement: “All large public venues such as concert halls and stadiums should require a vaccine passport”. Source: Ipsos

The full results of the survey, based on the answers of over 20,000 respondents interviewed in late March-early April, are available here.

What is a Covid immunity certificate?

Covid vaccine passports, a controversial scheme dividing public opinion, are official certificates, either in paper or digital form, allowing anyone who has been vaccinated, tested negative or recently recovered from the disease to travel and – possibly – attend large public events and gatherings.

Government and health authorities around the globe are increasingly considering the use of vaccine certificates in one form or another to allow their citizens to travel as the summer draws nearer and their economies to reopen after more than one year of successive lockdowns.

While the European Commission is working on a so-called “Digital Green Certificate” that could be used across the EU and beyond, several countries, including Denmark, Austria or Estonia, are already developing their own version.

Hungary, which boasts one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, has already approved the use of a Covid-19 “immunity card”, opening additional facilities and activities for those who’ve received at least one dose of the vaccine. The Hungarian government is also negotiating with third countries to mutually recognize and accept each other’s health passes.

But Covid vaccine passports are still facing an uphill battle to become reality across the continent and beyond.

The difficulty of creating a standardized, international system linking national health and vaccination data, the vastly disparate speed of countries’ vaccine rollout, the use of different jabs, the spread of new virus mutations on top of lingering mistrust of large segments of the population are all crucial challenges Covid vaccine certificates will have to overcome in the coming months.

Coordinated by Ábel Bede, Kafkadesk's Budapest office is made up of a growing team of freelance journalists, editors and fact-checkers passionate about Hungarian affairs and dedicated to bringing you all the latest news, events and insights from Hungary.