WHO opposes vaccination proof for international travel; says pandemic far from over


The Covid-19 pandemic is "far from over," said the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee yesterday, urging countries to recognise all licensed vaccines.

This Covid-19 emergency committee, chaired by Professor Didier Houssin, meets every three months to assess the situation.

In its recent statement, the Covid-19 emergency committee said that "while progress has been made through increased use of vaccines and treatments for Covid-19, analysis of the current situation and prediction models show that the pandemic is far from over.

"The Committee unanimously agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic still constitutes an extraordinary event that continues to adversely affect the health of populations around the world, poses a risk of international spread and interference with international traffic, and requires a coordinated international response. As such, the Committee concurred that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) and offered its advice to the Director-General."

In its recommendations to countries, the Committee also expressed its in principle opposition to a proof of vaccination for international travel, given the unequal distribution of vaccines worldwide.

It also called on countries to "approve all vaccines that have been approved for emergency use" by the WHO.

So far, the WHO has approved the two mRNA vaccines of Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech, the two Chinese vaccines from Sinopharm and Sinovac, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and various versions of the Astrazeneca vaccine.

A decision on the Covaxin vaccine prepared by the Indian laboratory Bharat Biotech is expected very soon.

"The Committee underlined that, while progress has been made through increased uptake of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, analysis of the present situation and forecasting models indicate that the pandemic is far from finished. The Committee emphasized that there is a critical need for States Parties to continue using all available tools including PHSM, vaccination, diagnostics, therapeutics, and effective communications to control the pandemic and mitigate its negative impacts on health as well as social-economic and educational contexts. In addition, the Committee recognized that the protracted nature of the COVID-19 pandemic poses an additional burden in the context of complex humanitarian emergencies, mass migration, population displacement, and other crises. As such, the Committee suggested States Parties consider revising their preparedness and response plans and assistance policies to account for these interdependencies.