Vaccine passport: WHO warns against using Covid jab proof for foreign travel

Boris Johnson discusses possibility of vaccine passports

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The WHO has warned against using vaccine passports as a way to travel abroad. The health authority said “critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission” still remain. Travellers who have had the Covid vaccine should therefore not be exempt from existing travel restrictions, the experts argued in their latest travel advice.

What’s more, there’s concern that doses of the jab could be diverted away from vulnerable people if the vaccine becomes a hot commodity for jet-setters.

The WHO’s interim position paper detailed: “At the present time, it is WHO’s position that national authorities and conveyance operators should not introduce requirements of proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travel as a condition for departure or entry.”

It added: “National authorities should choose public health interventions that least infringe on individual freedom of movement.”

Vaccine passports are a topic of heated debate at the moment.

MP Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is leading a review into issues relating to vaccine passports.

This will report before June 21, when the UK is provisionally set to completely reopen.

The Government is understood to want Britons to have the option of displaying either their vaccination status or test results, ensuring those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons are not penalised.

Boris Johnson said earlier this week on the subject: “There are deep and complex issues that we need to explore, and ethical issues about what the role is for government in mandating or for people to have such a thing or indeed in banning people doing such a thing.

“We can’t be discriminatory against people who can’t have the vaccine.”

The NHS app is being considered as an easy way to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test result.

Popular holiday destinations Spain and Greece are eager for an EU-wide certificate to prove travellers have had the Covid vaccine.

Answers are still needed as to whether the vaccine passports should be digital and at what stage for the two-step inoculation process it should be issued.

Leaders of the EU’s 27 countries met online yesterday for a two-day summit to discuss the pandemic.

They agreed to collaborate on vaccine certificates but did not decide on a unified plan.

Spain, Austria and Bulgaria support the EU-wide certificate while France and Germany are less convinced.

On Wednesday, Haris Theoharis, the Greek Minister of Tourism told ITV News that Greece will be open to Britons whether they’ve had the Covid vaccine or not.

He explained travellers who are vaccinated can travel to the country and be exempt from self-isolation.

Meanwhile, those who have not had the vaccine can also travel but will need to show proof of a negative Covid test before heading to Greece.

Yesterday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the UK was in talks over international travel agreements with Spain, the United States and Singapore.

Shapps told ITV’s Robert Peston: “The Prime Minister only announced the task force on Monday but I can tell you that in the last few days I’ve spoken to my Singaporean opposite number today, actually, my American opposite number today, actually, my Spanish opposite number … So we’re speaking to a lot of other governments.”

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