WHO panel advises against use of vaccination passports for travel around the world
A World Health Organization (WHO) panel said covid-19 “vaccine passports” should not be required to enter or leave a country, even if several countries are considering or requiring such documents to be entered into or out of. international travel.
“We have long advised against the use of covid vaccination passports for international travel due to the inequitable availability and the need for strong evidence for the prevention of transmission of the virus after vaccination. We have released the latest interim guidance to all Member States, ”WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan told Mint.
The updated WHO Interim Guidance on “Technical Considerations for Implementing a Risk-Based Approach to International Travel in the Context of Covid-19” indicates that vaccine rollout is progressing in the future. most countries and evidence is mounting on the performance of vaccines against the development of severe disease and death and, to a “lesser extent”, protection against infection and reduction of transmission, as well as performance against worrisome variants, national authorities in destination countries may consider implementing an individualized approach to the application of public health measures.
“In the context of global travel, the WHO recommends that member states do not require proof of vaccination or recovery from covid as a mandatory condition for entering or leaving a country,” he said. declared.
“They may consider exempting from SARS-CoV-2 testing and / or quarantine requirements for inbound travelers who are fully vaccinated, meaning they have received the last recommended dose of a listed covid vaccine.” by WHO for emergency use or approved by a strict regulatory body. at least two weeks before the trip, ”the WHO said. She added that travelers with evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed by RT-PCR have received in the past six months and are no longer infectious according to WHO criteria for patient release covid isolation can also be exempted.
Nevertheless, data from vaccination studies show that some vaccinated people can still be infected and develop the disease, which in most cases is mild. Therefore, vaccinated travelers are unlikely to develop severe covid and, therefore, they do not place increased strain on the health systems of destination countries. However, their ability to infect others and the risk they pose for further transmission remains unknown, the WHO said.
The umbrella global public health agency has also recommended that national authorities be able to use other Covid health status certificates, some in digital format, as recommended by regional or global intergovernmental bodies. When digital covid status certificates are used, interoperable solutions should be sought to enable cross-border verification. Currently, India requires travelers from overseas destinations to produce an RT-PCR test performed within 72 hours of travel. Some states also have mandatory quarantine rules. India introduced a digital vaccination certificate, which is linked to passports for travel. RS Sharma, chief executive of the National Health Authority and chairman of the Co-Win platform, said vaccination certificates have been aligned with Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, a WHO standard. The digital vaccination certificate is India’s vaccination passport, he said.
Some countries, such as Belize, Croatia, Ecuador, Estonia, Georgia, Guatemala, Iceland, Montenegro, Poland, Seychelles and Slovenia, allow travelers to enter and avoid the quarantine if they have a full certification vaccination against covid. Some Indian states such as Punjab, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have banned the entry of people from other states without a negative covid test result or vaccine certificate.
The WHO panel said covid testing remains crucial for countries to bring the pandemic under control, and international travelers should not be viewed by default as suspected covid-19 cases or as a priority group for testing. . “In resource-constrained settings, avoid diverting testing resources from environments where testing may have a greater impact on public health,” the WHO guide says.
“We are following WHO guidelines and looking at the best arrangements we can make during the pandemic, in line with WHO guidelines,” a senior health ministry official said.
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