A TikTok user has advertised fake Covid-19 vaccination cards for sale for just £5 each in a series of shock video posts.
Every Briton who receives the coronavirus jab will be handed a record card, with messaging on the front urging recipients to ‘make sure’ they keep the note in their ‘purse or wallet’.
They were widely criticised amid a roll-out of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this week, with many fearing they could create a black market in fakes if pubs, theatres and restaurants demand to see them.
No 10 has denied any plans for a UK ‘vaccination passport’ – but businesses including airline Qantas have already said they will give preferential treatment to anyone who has had a jab and can prove it.
A TikTok user has advertised fake Covid-19 vaccination record cards for sale for just £5 each in a series of shock video posts. Pictured: The posts
The account, which appeared last night, has posted two clips showing off the fake vaccination cards, alongside a link to a Shopify page where they could be purchased. The shop has since become unavailable.
Images of the card appear to be extremely similar to those given to vaccine recipients, which contains space to detail the name of the vaccine, its batch number and the date that it was injected.
There is space for a second date, as Pfizer’s jab requires two vaccinations.
However, there appear to be differences in the appearance, including the colour of text urging users to keep the record card in their ‘wallet or purse.’
It is unclear how they were created.
A spokesman for TikTok confirmed the account was only created last night and has now been permanently banned from the social media platform.
In a statement, he said: ‘These videos have been removed for breaching our community guidelines, which make clear we do not allow scams or misinformation, including vaccine misinformation, which could cause harm to people on TikTok or the wider public.’
Downing Street has denied any plans for a UK ‘vaccination passport’, with Public Health England confirming on Tuesday the card is only intended as a record of the vaccination.
The agency said: ‘Patients who get the #COVID19 vaccine will be given a vaccine record card.
‘The card notes details about the patient’s jab, and their appointment date for the second dose.
Every Briton who receives the coronavirus jab will be handed the card, with messaging on the front urging recipients to ‘make sure’ they keep the record in their ‘purse or wallet’. Pictured: The genuine card
Pictured: The Shopify page selling ‘NHS Covid Vaccine Cards’ for £5 each
‘Similar cards are given out for other NHS vaccinations. The card is not intended for any other purpose.’
The statement was issued in response to a tweet from the UK’s independent fact checking charity Full Fact, who said: ‘We’ve seen widespread claims in the media that the government has introduced a ‘vaccine passport’. It hasn’t.
‘The new NHS card cannot prove you have been vaccinated as it doesn’t have any personally identifying details.’
However, Advocacy group Liberty has expressed fears the card could ‘pave the way’ for a full national ID system while creating a two-tier county where some Britons have freedom but those without immunity are ‘shut out’.
The group fear people without the card could be blocked from accessing ‘essential public services, work or housing’ – with the ‘most marginalised among us’ being hit the hardest.
A graphic shows where the 50 NHS hubs, special jab centres and GP clinics offering the vaccine are located
Pictured: Margaret Keenan, 90, is the first patient in Britain to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital, administered by nurse May Parsons
Pictured: William Shakespeare, 81, receives the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital, at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the British history
Liberty’s advocacy director Grey Collier told MailOnline: ‘We should all be able to live our lives free from unnecessary interference – but immunity cards risk creating a two-tier system in which some of us have access to freedoms and support while others are shut out.
‘It looks like a card you can do at home with a printer’: Critics say Covid-19 ID is ‘easy to fake’ and ‘will be on eBay in hours’
The Government is asking people to carry a card that could be faked with a scanner and a decent printer, critics said today.
Downing Street denies the Government is bringing in an immunity passport by stealth – insisting it is a reminder for people to get a second jab for 95% immunity.
But Foreign Office minster James Cleverly said the vaccine and card will unlock normal life for Britons. He said he hoped it would not be a ‘ticket’ to enter pubs or sporting events as it was claimed businesses may ask to see proof of vaccination in return for entry.
Critics have said the NHS vaccination card is easy to fake because there is no photo.
Many pointed out that a quality colour printer could produce something similar.
One critic said: ‘A piece of paper is not going to be enough. Massively open to fraud. Why aren’t they making this digital?’. Another tweeted: ‘Well it looks like a card you can do at your home with a printer’.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘Will be on eBay in hours’.
‘Suggestions people must carry cards on them raise questions about whether we could be asked to use them to prove immunity. Beyond that it’s unclear what they’re for.
‘Once cards like these have been created it would be easy for their use to be extended so they can be used like an immunity passport.
‘This could result in people who don’t have a card potentially being blocked from essential public services, work or housing – with the most marginalised among us hardest hit.
‘This has wider implications too because any form of immunity passport could pave the way for a full ID system – an idea which has repeatedly been rejected as incompatible with building a rights-respecting society.
‘We have always supported proportionate action to protect lives, but that must not come at the expense of our rights and freedoms.’
Ex-minister Sir Desmond Swayne told MailOnline on Monday that the UK’s vaccination ID card could be construed as a message to Britons that they ‘will be able to have access to your civil liberties if you behave in the way we require by having this vaccine’.
He said: ‘That is coercion’, adding his concerns that people ‘will end up’ faking the documents ‘to be able to live normally’.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis added: ‘This sounds altogether too much like a freedom pass. In Britain the citizens don’t hold their freedom by the dispensation of the state’.
However, Downing Street has insisted the cards are simply a ‘reminder’ to get a second jab so the vaccine is more effective – and not a form of ‘immunity passport’.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘The cards are NHS reminder cards that prompt people to get the second dose that they need.
‘That’s a well-established practice in the NHS to offer people cards to remind them of their next appointment.’
Michael Gove also dismissed the notion of an immunity passport, telling Sky News: ‘That’s not being planned. I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports and I don’t know anyone else in government who is.’
UK Health minister Nadhim Zahawi said its restaurants and bars could ask for some proof of vaccination.
He told the BBC: ‘I think you’ll probably find that restaurants and bars and cinemas and other venues, sports venues, will probably also use that system.’
It comes as the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine were administered on Tuesday, with Margaret Keenan, 90, the first patient in Britain to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – which is 95 per cent effective at preventing infection – at Coventry University Hospital.
HOW DOES PFIZER’S COVID VACCINE WORK? AND IS IT SAFE?
What type of vaccine is this?
The jab is known as a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine.
Conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of the virus, but mRNAs use only the virus’s genetic code.
An mRNA vaccine is injected into the body where it enters cells and tells them to create antigens. These antigens are recognised by the immune system and prepare it to fight coronavirus.
What are the advantages of this type of vaccine?
No actual virus is needed to create an mRNA vaccine. This means the rate at which it can be produced is dramatically accelerated. As a result, mRNA vaccines have been hailed as potentially offering a rapid solution to new outbreaks of infectious diseases.
In theory, they can also be modified reasonably quickly if, for example, a virus develops mutations and begins to change. mRNA vaccines are also cheaper to produce than traditional vaccines, although both will play an important role in tackling Covid-19.
Where is the vaccine made?
Pfizer’s jab is being manufactured at the firm’s plant in Belgium, as well as separate sites in the US.
BioNTech — the other drug company involved in the vaccine — has two production facilities in Germany that are expected to start churning out doses in the New Year.
Is it safe?
All vaccines undergo rigorous testing and have oversight from experienced regulators.
Some believe mRNA vaccines are safer for the patient as they do not rely on any element of the virus being injected into the body. mRNA vaccines have been tried and tested in the lab and on animals before moving to human studies.
The human trials of mRNA vaccines – involving tens of thousands of people worldwide – have been going on since early 2020 to show whether they are safe and effective.
Pfizer will continue to collect safety and long-term outcomes data from participants for two years.
Don’t vaccines take a long time to produce?
In the past it has taken years, sometimes decades, to produce a vaccine.
Traditionally, vaccine development includes various processes, including design and development stages followed by clinical trials – which in themselves need approval before they even begin.
How has this come about so quickly?
In the trials for a Covid-19 vaccine, things look slightly different. A process which usually takes years has been condensed to months.
While the early design and development stages look similar, the clinical trial phases overlap, instead of taking place sequentially.
And pharmaceutical firms have begun manufacturing before final approval has been granted – taking on the risk that they may be forced to scrap their work.
The new way of working means that regulators around the world can start to look at scientific data earlier than they traditionally would do.
But won’t that mean that safety is compromised?
Even though some phases of the clinical trial process have run in parallel rather than one after another, the safety checks have still been the same as they would for any new medicine.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has adopted the phrase ‘safety is our watchword’.
Regulators have said they will ‘rigorously assess’ the data and evidence submitted on the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness.
And, in most clinical trials, any safety issues are usually identified in the first two to three months – a period which has already lapsed for most vaccine front-runners.
How have regulators acted so quickly?
Regulators have been carrying out ‘rolling reviews’, which means that instead of going through reams of information at the conclusion of the trials, they have been given access to the data as the scientists work.
A rolling review of the vaccine data started several months ago.
This means regulators can start to look at scientific data earlier than they traditionally would do, which in turn means the approval process can be sped up. Regulators sometimes have thousands of pages of information to go over with a fine-tooth comb – which understandably takes time.
Once all the data available on the vaccine is submitted, MHRA experts will carefully and scientifically review the safety, quality and effectiveness data – how it protects people from Covid-19 and the level of protection it provides.
After this has been done, advice is sought from the Government’s independent advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM).
So what data would the regulator have looked at?
The information provided to the MHRA will have included what the vaccine contains, how it works in the body, how well it works and its side-effects, and who it is meant to be used for.
This data must include the results of all animal studies and clinical trials in humans, manufacturing and quality controls, consistency in batch production, and testing of the final product specification.
The factories where the vaccines are made are also inspected before a licence can be granted to make sure that the product supplied will be of the same consistent high standard.