Matt Hancock discusses possible coronavirus vaccine passports
Ministers floated Covid passports as early as last year as an answer to the nationwide lockdown. At the time, they proposed them for people who natural immunity from contracting the disease. But since research has proven natural immunity is likely short-lived, officials have allegedly looked to establish new passports based on vaccines.
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Vaccine passports would, in theory, provide people with identification allowing them to bypass some of the measures imposed on the general public.
Specifics of such a policy remain unclear, but some countries have now proposed adding vaccine passports to travel arrangements.
Greece started pressing for a vaccine passports earlier this year, which would allow people to enter their country if they have had the jab.
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Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the country’s Prime Minister, raised the prospect in January when he wrote to EU Commission president Ursula Von Der Leyen claiming such a policy would promote vaccine uptake.
In action, they would also help revitalise Greece’s tourism-reliant economy.
Now, it appears the proposals have inspired British officials, as Foreign Office staff have started working on a “certification system”, according to The Times.
But Foreign Office minister James Cleverly did not confirm the reports.
Speaking on Sky News, he said it would be up to “other countries” to decide on vaccine passport policies.
He added it would also depend on the vaccination schedules undertaken by other nations.
Mr Cleverly said: “The border measures of other countries and what they require of people coming to their countries will be up to them.
“Receiving countries will set their own border measures and it will be up to those countries to define what they require travellers to have.”
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“At the moment, most countries, including our own, require a negative test result.
“And we’ll have to see what countries, what the international community, put in place once vaccines around the world are as effectively distributed, as they are here in the UK.”
Health officials have remained sceptical about introducing vaccine passports.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) director-general, said passports were an “urgent issue” facing the organisation.
But he added officials should not “prioritise or punish” countries based on their stage in vaccine rollout.
Mr Ghebreyesus told WHO’s emergency committee: “There are two urgent issues which need particular attention, and for which we seek your advice.
“The first is the recent emergence of new variants of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, and the second is the potential use of vaccination and testing certificates for international travel.
“One theme ties both issues together: solidarity. We cannot afford to prioritise or punish certain groups or countries.”
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