Coronavirus: EU leaders consider vaccine passports

Ross Houston
February 26, 2021

And as curfew-weary, mask-wearing European citizens hope for relief - and the prospect of a real summer vacation this year - this summit will also focus on when to ease restrictions and the possibility of a future vaccination certificate so people can travel more conveniently.

The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as Covishield, was rolled out on January 26 for people above 60 years in Seychelles in the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

France and Germany appear to be putting the brakes on such an option, however, saying that the certificate would mean that the system would create an obligation to be vaccinated and therefore would bar those who refuse to be inoculated from traveling.

Setting out the World Health Organization stance, the interim position paper states: '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 global travel as a condition for departure or entry'.

The health ministry said it had agreed to buy a total of 17 million doses of Indian-made vaccines, including 15 million doses of the Novavax shot.

"Vaccines work. We now need to make sure that everyone everywhere is protected".

Lead researcher Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh's Usher Institute, said: "These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future".

Germany is one of a number of European countries where the AstraZeneca vaccine is not now approved for the over-65s because regulators said there was not enough clinical data on its effectiveness in older people.

On Wednesday, officials stated that the European Union was working with the International Air Transport Association, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Health Organization in order to firm up plans for the reopening of travel this spring and summer.

Leaders must also agree whether to issue the certificates if both doses of the vaccine are issued or if just one is received, as in the case of the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine candidate, which may be available soon.

It was also not clear if people could be infectious having already fought off the coronavirus themselves, for how long they remained immune and if they too should get certificates. Work on coordinating vaccine certificates would continue at the level of ambassadors in the next three months, he explained.

To help ensure that Seychelles reaches its target and reopens the country to any visitors in mid-March, President Wavel Ramkalawan secured another 25,000 Covishield vaccines through a private donor during his visit to the UAE last weekend.

According to an AFP tally, only 222 million jabs have so far been given globally - mostly of vaccines that require a second dose - to a world population that now tops 7.8 billion.

"For those who have not been vaccinated, the most likely scenario is that they will be asked for some form of negative test".

"If a restaurant wants to open only to vaccinated people, it would be hard to forbid that", says Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht.

Denmark plans to launch a digital passport to document a traveller's vaccination status, created to be compatible with any future EU-wide scheme. "There's more to be done now to prepare ourselves", Theocharis told the British paper.

A fourth wrote: "The EU blew it big time on this one, thank heavens we are out and free at last".

Poland was among the most furious countries.

Other reports by iNewsToday