Digital Covid Travel Certificate Roll Out Before Summer Tourism Season Planned By EU

Officials of the European Union have said that citizens across the EU should be given a digital certificate “without discrimination” is that it is possible to kick-start foreign travel.

The target of this move is to allow anyone who has been vaccinated against the Covid-19 disease or who has in possession a recent negative Covid-19 test or has recently recovered from the disease to be able to travel with the bloc.  

The manner of usage of the new digital certificate will be decided by the 27 member states of the EU.

Some EU member states have opposed the issuance of vaccine passports over concerns of possible discrimination.

There are arguments that such an arrangement would allow some Europeans, typically a minority, to undertake foreign travel without restrictions while others, such as the young who are not seen as a priority for vaccination, will be forced to endure measures such as quarantine.

But European Commission officials have made clear they want to avoid discrimination.

Another argument against this idea is that the incompleteness of the data on the efficacy of vaccines that would prevent a person with the virus from transmitting it to another.

While stating that it was working to “create an international trusted framework” to allow safe travel, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that it does not want vaccinations to ne one of the preconditions.

In a separate development, a threat of stopping exporting of Covid-19 vaccines to the United Kingdom and any other countries outside of the EU that do not supply doses in a reciprocal manner was issued by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“We’re still waiting for doses to come from the UK,” she said. “So, this is an invitation to show us that there are also doses from the UK coming to the European Union.”

The proposed digital green certificate would be “for all EU citizens, their families when they’re leaving the EU or living abroad”, said European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders while speaking in Brussels.

“It’ll also be for the European Economic Area (EEA), because we want to work with Norway and Iceland,” he said, adding that Switzerland would also be involved.

There was still a lot of work remaining to launch the digital certificate program but the EU’s aim is to launch it and make it running prior to the summer tourist season, Reynders said.

Those EU member countries that allow vaccinated travellers to not undergo restrictions such as quarantine should also be ready to accept and acknowledge certificates from other states within the bloc under the same conditions, says the European Commission proposal.

The vaccines that would allow such travelling should have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Currently the Covid-19 vaccines tha are appaorved for use in the EU include the ones developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Russia’s Sputnik V or China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines are not approved by the EMA.

The proposals however add that the guidelines “should not prevent member states from deciding to accept vaccination certificates issued for other Covid-19 vaccines”.

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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