Wednesday, October 27

WHO advises against vaccine passports as EU debates ‘green pass’

WHO Europe said on Thursday that the international body was not in favor of vaccination passports, just a day after the European Commission presented proposals for the EU’s “digital green pass”.

“We do not encourage at this stage that vaccination determines whether or not you can travel internationally,” said Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe.

“We strongly recommend, as with any vaccine, that there is documentation, either on paper or preferably digital, so WHO is working on a smart digital certificate. But this is something different than a passport.”

Catherine Smallwood, director of COVID-19 incidents at the WHO, said the body was “looking into the details of the announcements made by the European Commission.”

In the announcement, “it was clear that the new ‘green pass’ would not be used as a vaccine passport and that” the lack of vaccination would not be used to prevent people from traveling within the European Union, “Smallwood said.

“In fact, what this initiative really does is collect data on a particular patient around a number of things, including vaccination.”

Kluge explained that the reason the agency did not support vaccine passports was primarily “ethical,” considering the “global shortage of vaccines.” “So this would increase inequality,” Kluge said.

There are also “scientific reasons,” the official continued. “We are still not sure how long immunity lasts after a person receives the COVID-19 vaccine.”

“If you get a vaccine, you are protected, but you can still transmit the infection,” he added.

Divisive debate

The issue of vaccine certificates has divided EU nations for weeks.

The travel industry and southern European countries with tourism-dependent economies such as Greece and Spain have pushed for the rapid introduction of a passport that would help eliminate quarantines and testing requirements for tourists.

But several other EU members, including France, argued that it would be premature and discriminatory to introduce such passes, as a large majority of EU citizens have not had access to vaccines so far.

To ensure the participation of all member countries, the commission proposed to provide free “Digital Green Certificates” to EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, but also to those who have tested negative for the virus. or they can show that they recovered. of that.

The plan will be discussed during a summit of EU leaders next week.

“Being vaccinated will not be a precondition for travel,” the European Commission said.

Infections on the rise in Europe for the third week in a row

In his introductory remarks, Kluge warned that infections in Europe were increasing for the third week in a row, with more than 1.2 million new cases reported last week.

Deaths in the region exceeded 900,000, Kluge added.

“Every week, more than 20,000 people in the region lose their lives to the virus,” Kluge said, noting that the number was higher now than in March last year.

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