The European Union is set to recognize a standard for vaccine passports in a what is being pitched as a move to reignite travel within the bloc.
While admitting that the use of such passports at the moment would be “premature” due to low vaccination rates amongst total populations, the EU says that plans to implement a bloc wide standard will likely be picked up in the near future.
EU commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas told the Daily Mail it was “perfectly imaginable that this can open avenues for other use, including facilitating travel.”
“We feel that now this is the time for these vaccine certificates to be recognized across the European Union, and even beyond the European Union,” he added.
EU Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, is claiming that the bloc is in “active discussion” about how to implement the idea.
It isn’t hard to image the EU setting a standard for mandatory vaccine passports as numerous European countries have already committed to issuing such a document to its citizens for the purpose of travel.
The United Kingdom is currently trialing a similar document in select areas of Britain.
The London Telegraph reporting last week that biometrics firm iProov and cybersecurity firm Mvine have developed a vaccine passport which will be optionally provided as a smart phone app for Brits vaccinated against COVID-19.
Airlines have also been very vocal about issuing a vaccine passport for travelers. In fact, Singapore Airlines in December became first major carrier to introduce a digital health certificate to verify passengers’ testing history and vaccination status.
London doctor Richard Dawood, who is cited by the Daily Telegraph as a “leading travel health expert”, says that vaccine passports are now “ultimately unavoidable.”
“Regardless of how any of us feel about the idea of ‘vaccine passports’ for travel, they will ultimately be unavoidable,” Dawood said, adding:
“Once countries begin insisting on proof of Covid immunity from arriving travelers, there will be little option but to embrace the challenge.
We all long for travel to return to normal. But entry requirements will remain as long as countries feel insecure, perhaps until most people have been vaccinated worldwide. Social distancing, sanitisers, face masks on flights, delays, red tape, and last-minute changes of plan, will stay a fact of travel until then.”
The implementation of such passports is running at full speed despite the World Health Organization stating earlier in the month that they oppose the use of ‘proof of vaccination documents’ “for the time being“.
“There are still too many fundamental unknowns in terms of the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing (virus) transmission and vaccines are still only available in limited quantities,” the WHO said.