Plans for a digital vaccine passport have been unveiled by the European Commission today, in an effort to salvage tourism and travel in the bloc during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coined the “Digital Green Certificate”, the EU’s vaccine passport will be free, secure, non-discriminatory and available in digital and physical formats. Each passport will have three features: vaccination certificates with the brand of vaccine used, date and place of inoculation; proof of negative COVID-19 tests and medical certificates for those who have recovered from the virus in the last 180 days.
The idea is to allow “safe and free movement” within the EU for work and tourism. However, it will not automatically exempt passport holders from public health restrictions in place.
It will be valid in all EU countries and open for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway as well as Switzerland and be in English and the language of the member state. Non-EU nationals living in the union as well as visitors who have the right to travel to other member states will also be permitted to apply for a certificate.
However, not everyone is in favour of the passport idea.
The World Health Organisation has voiced its opposition, warning of scientific, ethical and legal consequences of the scheme. In February the WHO noted that there are still “critical unknowns” about the vaccine, like how much it limits the transmission of the virus, how much they protect against asymptomatic infection and how long the immunity lasts.
Andrea Ammon, the director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has voiced similar concerns.
Health Minister Chris Fearne and Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola have both pledged their support for EU-wide health passports. Elsewhere, Israel became the first country in the world to provide certificates to inoculated citizens.
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