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Swipe Vax: Dating Apps Are The New Battleground Of Vaccination Divide

A Swiss-German anti-vax dating app is the latest tool for COVID-19 skeptics. As the pandemic becomes increasingly politicized around the world, will it permanently change how and who we date?

Swipe Vax: Dating Apps Are The New Battleground Of Vaccination Divide

The app “Impffrei: Love” (“Love Without The Vaccine") has reportedly registered some 10,000 unvaccinated users

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

People usually turn to dating applications for a shot at love, but a new Swiss-German platform hopes to connect those who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and are frustrated by European health passes that limit activities (including a romantic dinner date) for the un-jabbed.

The app, called “Impffrei: Love” (“Love Without The Vaccine"), has reportedly registered some 10,000 unvaccinated users aged 20 to 50, who claim they are sick (not literally) of how the pandemic has impacted their personal liberty, reports Berlin-based magazine Cicero.

Of course, the app's terms and conditions have a disclaimer that Impffrei: Love holds no responsibility if you get COVID from a date. The app might seem like a publicity stunt or just the latest sign of how deeply divided society has become on the issue.

Love can conquer all, right? Well, when it comes to vaccines, the personal has clearly become political. For some, vaccination status is enough to swipe right or left, as it reveals much about someone's social and political beliefs.

Flaunting your jab status

While debates about vaccination are playing out across a range of media, there's a particular twist when it comes to online dating. This form of algorithm-based matchmaking has gained popularity during a time when people can’t meet in person. Apps provide a way for singles to screen potential partners to make sure they’re worth taking the risk of meeting in person. Vaccination status has become a key component of someone’s dating profile in the same way they can list their interests, education and what they’re looking for in a partner.

On this note, American-based dating apps like Tinder and Bumble now allow users to indicate if they’ve been vaccinated. In the U.S. the initiative was actually started by the White House as a push to get more people protected against COVID-19, particularly younger demographics with lower vaccination rates.

The British government also launched a similar program with vaccine stickers to share vaccination status. More creatively, the dating app BLK, which caters to the Black community, collaborated with rappers Juvenile, Mannie Fresh and Mia X to release a vaccination anthem called “Vax That Thang Up.”

At an anti-vaccine protest in Munich

Sachelle Babbar/ZUMA

A broader conversation about health and mating

On a positive note, being open about vaccination is part of a larger discussion about the role dating apps play in disclosing health statues and removing stigmas around sexually transmitted infections. Many apps aimed at the LGBTQ+ community, such as Grindr, are leading the way in making users feel comfortable sharing their testing practices and providing public health information, as well as being an outlet for contact tracing.

It’s become a lot more normalized in the queer world to share that information.

As Jen Hecht, senior director of Building Healthy Online Communities, told The Conversation, “One of the main factors is that you have generations of gay men who have lived through the AIDS crisis. That took a toll, but it also became part of their identity. It’s become a lot more normalized in the queer world to share that information.”

Two years into the pandemic, there's still no end in sight. It's clear that COVID-19 will have long-lasting effects, on everything from how we work to how we travel to how — and with whom — we date. And mate.

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Kyiv Reality Check: What Ukraine's Friends Say Out Loud — And Whisper To Each Other

Europe's foreign ministers traveled together to Kyiv yesterday to reaffirm their support for Ukraine. It is necessary after the first signs of "fatigue" in Western support, from a Polish about-face to the victory of a pro-Russian prime minister in Slovakia.

photo of Josep Borrell listening to Zelensky speak

EU's chief of foreign affairs Josep Borrell and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky during the EU-Ukraine meeting in Kyiv

Johanna Leguerre, EU foreign ministry via ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — The symbolism is strong: for the first time ever, Europe's foreign ministers meet in a country outside the European Union. But it looks like a diplomatic ‘Coué’. The Coué method, named for a French psychologist, holds that a person tends to repeat a message to convince oneself as much as to convince others.

In Kyiv on Monday, the European foreign ministers solemnly reaffirmed their commitment to Ukraine, perhaps because it's suddenly no longer as obvious to them as to the rest of the world.

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There has indeed been some hesitation as of late; and it was undoubtedly time for this display of unity, which has stood as one of the major diplomatic achievements since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Hungarian foreign minister was notably absent from the family photo, due to his "Putinophilia", and his Polish counterpart was officially ill, which happens to coincide with the recent Polish-Ukrainian quarrel. It's also a safe bet that, in a few weeks' time, the Slovakian minister could also be missing from such a gathering, following Sunday's election victory of the pro-Russian Robert Fico.

These nuances aside, there was a message of firmness in Kyiv, embodied by the bit of alliteration from German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who predicted that Europe that would soon go "from Lisbon to Luhansk" — Luhansk, in the Donbas region of Ukraine, currently annexed by Russia.

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