The World Health Organization (WHO) does not currently support the use of “vaccine passports” for travel due to concerns about equity, an agency official said Tuesday.
Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergency program, said he was concerned that such a requirement could exacerbate vaccine capital problems.
He told reporters that the WHO supports vaccine certificates as a way to provide a health record for people who have been vaccinated, but the issue takes a different consideration if certificates are used to go to work, school or travel.
Ryan said that until more countries have equal access to vaccines, it would not be ethical to require proof of travel vaccination.
“We already have a big question about vaccine capital in the world. The introduction of pre-travel certification requirements could introduce another layer of such inequality,”
Ryan also noted that there are still persistent questions about whether vaccines can prevent coronavirus transmission.
He said the agency’s working groups are continuing to discuss the matter and the recommendation could be revised again.
Ryan’s comments repeated them from a WHO spokeswoman earlier Tuesday. According to Reuters, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris also said the agency does not back vaccine passports for travel.
“We as the WHO say at this time that we do not want to see the vaccination passport as a requirement for entry or exit because at this point we are not sure that the vaccine will prevent transmission,” she said according to Reuters.
“There are all the other issues except the issue of discrimination against those people who for some reason are unable to get the vaccine.”
Talk of vaccine passports in the United States has triggered withdrawal among conservatives who have raised concerns about potential government violations that will discriminate against Americans who choose not to be vaccinated and violate their privacy.
The White House has maintained that it will put private companies at risk if they want to implement some sort of vaccine pass system.