WHO warns countries against requiring proof of Covid vaccines for travelers ‘until further notice’

Jan 19, 2021

The Emergency Management Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending that governments not require travelers entering their countries to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccines until more data about the vaccine’s effectiveness and the number of people vaccinated is available. Several governments, including at least three in the European Union, said they are considering such a requirement as soon as the end of the year.

The WHO said it is too early for countries to require proof of Covid vaccines for all travelers.

“Given that the impact of vaccines on reducing infections is still unknown, and that their availability is still very limited, the committee recommends that countries do not require a vaccination certificate for travelers to enter until further notice,” the WHO committee said in a statement. Barring specific foreign entry bans, travelers should be allowed to enter showing a negative Covid test result,” the statement continued.

Recently, the WHO said it could take three to four years for everyone in the world who wants a vaccine to receive one. “It would be unfair for countries that are able to vaccinate their citizens sooner to restrict access for travelers from countries where vaccines are not yet available.”

The WHO emergency committee for Covid-19 meets every three months to analyze the state of the pandemic and to provide guidance based on the latest health conditions and information. Currently, the committee is concerned that new variants of the virus could delay the vaccination program or even require development of new vaccines.

In November, the committee said it was working with governments and international airlines to develop a common certificate, or health passport, that travelers would present to prove that they had been tested or vaccinated against Covid-19. In the new statement, the committee says it is concerned that the world’s richer countries are dominating the vaccine market, delaying delivery to developing nations. It added that the Covax program, designed to guarantee equitable distribution of vaccines, is not meeting its goals.

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