WHO does not back use of vaccination passports for now

GENEVA : The World Health Organisation (WHO), European Union (EU) privacy watchdogs and the White House all weighed in on vaccine passports on Tuesday.

The WHO said it does not back requiring vaccination passports for travel because of uncertainty over whether inoculation prevents transmission of the Covid-19 virus, as well as equity concerns.

"We as WHO are saying at this stage we would not like to see the vaccination passport as a requirement for entry or exit because we are not certain at this stage that the vaccine prevents transmission," WHO spokesman Margaret Harris said on Tuesday.

"There are many questions, apart from the question of discrimination against the people who are not able to have the vaccine for one reason or another," she told a UN news briefing.

The EU privacy watchdogs said countries that issue certificates showing that citizens have been vaccinated should have a legal basis to ensure they are necessary and proportionate.

The European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) also warned against using data in such travel documents to create a central EU database.


Tourism-reliant countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal are hoping that vaccination certificates will revive international travel and save this summer's holiday season.

While some countries want an EU-wide approach to the issue, others are planning national schemes.

"Any measure adopted at national or EU level that involves processing of personal data must respect the general principles of effectiveness, necessity and proportionality," EDPB head Andrea Jelinek said in a statement.

The White House on Tuesday ruled out imposing any form of a vaccination passport in the US but said private businesses could explore the idea.

"The government is not now, nor will be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.

"There will be no federal vaccination database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential," press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. - REUTERS, AFP