This article sketches a short history of the Covid-19 passport by examining its earlier iterations, including the “sanitary passport” (passeport sanitaire), an epidemiological tool officially introduced on the global stage by the French delegation during the 1893 International Sanitary Conference in Dresden. The sanitary passport shares with the Covid-19 passport two features. First, a similar aim, that of controlling the movement of potentially infected individuals across borders. Second, a similar condition of possibility, that of being the product of a pandemic crisis. The article identifies key characteristics as well as departures with the reinvention of the Covid-19 vaccine or immunity passport. The paper also situates the birth of the sanitary passport within a security context of increasing use of national passports as a means for the continuous surveillance of criminals and vagabonds as well as a scientific context marked by a key mutation: the birth of the immunized self.

You do not currently have access to this content.