The global race to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Summer vacations are in jeopardy after the World health Organization (WHO) called for vaccine passports not to be used to facilitate international travel. According to the WHO, proof of vaccination should not be required because “there are still critical unknowns about the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccination in reducing transmission.
According to WHO, vaccinated passengers should not be able to bypass existing travel restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of Chinese communist pneumonia (Wuhan pneumonia, Covid-19), the Daily Mail reported Feb. 25.
WHO also warned that if vaccines suddenly become valuable to travelers, vaccines, which are still scarce, could be transferred from vulnerable populations to others.
In stating WHO’s position, the interim position paper states, “At present, it is the position of WHO that national authorities and transport operators, should not make the requirement for proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travel a condition of exit or entry.”
This is the latest blow to both holidaymakers and tourism industry bosses who hope that vaccine passports will pave the way for overseas travel.
Whether vaccination should be mandatory for people to enjoy greater freedom is a politically divisive issue that is being debated in various countries.
The WHO document also says: “National authorities should choose public health interventions that are least intrusive on the freedom of movement of individuals.”
In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be evaluated by the Department for Transport on efficacy before making a decision.
EU leaders are set to engage in a heated debate on the vaccine passport system on the 25th. Southern EU countries, which rely heavily on tourism, are desperate to save this summer’s vacation season.
Some governments, such as Greece and Spain, are pushing for an EU-wide certificate to be adopted as soon as possible for those who have been vaccinated so people can travel again.
But while EU member states welcome the vaccination certificate, work is needed on the details, including whether it should be in digital form, whether it should be accepted globally, and at what stage of the two-step vaccination process the vaccine certificate should be issued.
“We call for continued work on a common approach to vaccination certificates,” a draft statement from a video conference of EU leaders seen by Reuters said, but did not set a Time frame for the outcome.
Officials said the EU was working with the International Air Transport Association, which is keen to revive air travel, as well as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Health Organization.
But officials said travel with a permit also raises legal questions, as those last in line for vaccinations may argue that their freedom of movement is unjustly restricted by often months-long queues.
EU officials also noted that WHO and EU agencies, have not yet given guidance on whether people who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine can still carry the coronavirus and infect others, even if they are no longer susceptible to infection themselves.
It is also unclear whether people who have recovered from Wuhan pneumonia will still be infected, how long they remain immune, and whether they should also be certified.
There is still a lot we don’t know,” said a senior official from an EU country. We need more time to reach a common approach.”
But time is running out for the EU’s southern countries, and the hospitality industry there needs to know what it should do to prepare in the coming months. Despite official statements that all EU governments want to work together to solve the problem, some countries may decide to move faster on their own.
In early February, Greece and Israel signed an agreement to ease travel restrictions to Greece for Israelis with proof of COVID-19 vaccination.