United Kingdom

Foreign holidays hopes boosted: WHO appears to be warming to Covid 'vaccine passports' plan

Hopes of foreign summer holidays were given another boost yesterday after the World Health Organisation appeared to warm to the use of ‘vaccine passports’.

The UN health agency advised against using them in January but Dr Michael Ryan, director of the WHO’s emergencies programme, said the agency was now ‘looking at different options’ around vaccine passports so that ‘governments can at some point verify the vaccination status of individuals as they potentially move around the world’.

But he stressed there were still ‘serious human rights and ethical’ concerns about potentially restricting freedom of movement for people who don’t have access to vaccines or who choose not to be inoculated. 

Dr Michael Ryan, director of the WHO’s emergencies programme, said the agency was now ‘looking at different options’ around vaccine passports (file photo)

Dr Ryan said: ‘In the last emergency committee meeting the committee at that time advised against the requirement of certification of vaccination as a requirement for travel, understandably given that vaccines were not widely available.

‘But as we see vaccination become more and more widely available in society, clearly there will need to be considerations around how public health, social measures and individual behaviours can be adapted according to that… Vaccines need to be distributed in an equitable fashion. 

'If we get that done then we are at a turning point.’

It comes after the European Union announced its ‘vaccine passports’ scheme could be opened up to British holidaymakers.

On Monday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen laid out plans for the so-called ‘Digital Green Pass’ to kick-start travel.

It could come into force as early as June. It will not automatically be open to Britons, but the idea would be to expand it to include non-EU countries such as the UK if safe to do so.

On Monday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (pictured above) laid out plans for the so-called ‘Digital Green Pass’ to kick-start travel

However, popular holiday destinations are already preparing to break ranks with Brussels and strike their own bilateral deals with Britain if the EU-wide plan stalls.

They would resemble last summer’s ‘travel corridors’, when mutually low-risk countries opened their borders to each other.

Spain and Greece have already confirmed they are in side-talks with the UK.

And yesterday a Government source of another EU country with a large tourism industry said that, regardless of the success of the EU passports plan, they ‘anticipate that by this summer people who have been vaccinated will be able to travel without restrictive quarantine measures or the need to provide negative test results’.

Football news:

Mbappe dancing on the table 🕺 Watch as PSG celebrate their semi-final exit with passion
Pochettino on reaching the semi-finals: It's all down to the PSG players. I missed the adrenaline
Manuel Neuer: Bayern should have played better in Munich. We missed a lot of chances
Hans-Dieter Flick: Bayern lacked the final touch in attack. Congratulations to PSG
PSG President: We have invested a lot in the club to win the Champions League. Neymar and Mbappe have no reason to leave
Tuchel about 0:1 with Porto: Maybe not the best game to watch. Chelsea deserved to win after 180 minutes
Neymar on reaching the 1/2 Champions League: We knocked out the winner of the tournament. Now PSG should always strive to reach the semi-finals