The World Health Organisation says people should not be required to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to travel overseas, warning that vaccine passports would isolate poorer countries.
Dr Mike Ryan, who leads WHO’s public health emergencies program, said it was vital to record that a person had been vaccinated, but said using that information to allow or prohibit a person from taking part in regular life raised complex, ethical issues.
“This is a complex issue … There are ethical issues regarding equity, we already have a huge issue with vaccine equity in the world,” Dr Ryan told a virtual news conference from WHO’s headquarters in Geneva.
“The imposition of requirements for certification of vaccination before travel could introduce another layer or such inequity.
“If you don’t have access to a vaccine in the country then you will effectively become isolated as a country as vaccine passports kick in.
“So there are many, many, many issues.”
However, Dr Ryan said WHO officials had only temporarily recommended against vaccine passports for international travel. The organisation would reconsider the issue at a meeting on April 15.
He said another group of officials would examine the ethical, social and scientific data regarding vaccine passports.
Australia has begun preparations for an international vaccine passport, but it is not required when quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia resumes on April 18 due to the countries’ COVID-free status.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has previously said the Australian airline will insist on vaccination as a condition of boarding and that such a requirement could be included in the company’s terms and conditions when booking a ticket. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said at the time that a compulsory vaccination stance was “premature”. IATA has developed a trial app or digital health pass where a passenger’s verified vaccination and testing records can be stored.
The issue is also dividing Americans. Some Republicans are strongly opposed to what has been dubbed “corporate communism”, while some Democrats are backing them as a tool to enable the resumption of mass gatherings. New York was the first state to officially launch a vaccine passport app, while Texas and Florida have banned them.
The Biden administration has not endorsed a national vaccine passport and said it will be a matter for the states.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
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Author: Latika Bourke
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