WHO: No COVID-19 Vaccination Document should be Required when Traveling
The World Health Organization's (WHO) Emergency Committee said proof of vaccination against COVID-19 should not be required for international travel, as this would limit global access due to the unfair distribution of vaccines.
The committee's statement said that despite the increased use of vaccines and therapeutic agents to combat COVID-19, the pandemic was far from over and remained a public health emergency of international importance (PHEIC).
The declaration was made after the ninth mandatory quarterly meeting of the committee on the COVID-19 pandemic since it began in early 2020.
PHEIC is the highest level of emergency medical care that the WHO can declare.
The Committee stated that "proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for international travel should not be required as the only option or condition allowing international travel, given the limited global access and uneven distribution of vaccines against COVID-19".
The document says states should consider a risk-based approach to facilitate international travel by repealing or modifying measures such as testing and quarantine requirements, where appropriate, following WHO guidelines, the Anatolian Agency said.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adanom Gebrejesus said the COVID-19 pandemic continued to represent PHEIC and accepted the committee's advice.
The Committee also expressed concern about the challenges facing the African region in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These include access to sufficient vaccines, diagnostic and therapeutic agents, and the collection, analysis, and reporting of epidemiological and qualitative laboratory data, including genomic sequencing data, needed to monitor the development of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Committee emphasized the importance of States continuing to use all available instruments. These include measures in the areas of public health and the social sphere, vaccination, diagnosis, therapy and effective communication to control the pandemic and mitigate its adverse effects on health and the socio-economic and educational context.
"Furthermore, the Committee acknowledged that the continued nature of the COVID-19 pandemic posed an additional burden in the context of complex humanitarian emergencies, mass migration, population displacement and other crises," the WHO said.
The Committee suggested that States consider reviewing preparedness and response plans and support policies to take account of these interdependencies.
The Committee called for the recognition of all vaccines that have received WHO emergency use approval and of all vaccination schemes in line with the recommendations of its expert group, including on international travel.
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