Vaccine passports: While US holds back for now, China and Europe embrace ‘digital green pass’

Credit: Economic Times
Credit: Economic Times

Many international travelers will likely need to prove they are vaccinated or free of Covid-19 if they plan trips later this year… China is working toward launching certificates that will declare a person’s vaccination status or recent test results, according to its foreign ministry. Similarly, the European Commission plans this month to present proposals for a “digital green pass” for EU citizens.

The U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t yet issued guidance on the issue and says there are no established international standards for vaccines or documentation of vaccination. 

“Until then, all air passengers traveling to the U.S., regardless of vaccination or antibody status, are required to provide a negative Covid-19 test result or documentation of recovery,” CDC spokeswoman Caitlin Shockey said.

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The WHO has so far declined to support a vaccine travel certificate, saying it needs more information. At root are two issues: Immunologists still don’t know how easily vaccinated people can unwittingly spread the virus, though early indications suggest such a risk may be low.

Secondly, some WHO leaders have expressed concern that allowing vaccinated people to travel freely while maintaining border closures and mandatory quarantines for others could be discriminative: 75% of all doses administered so far have been in just 10 countries.

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