World, Europe

WHO committee says no proof of COVID jab should be needed for travel

Emergency Committee renews declaration of COVID-19 as public health emergency of global concern

Peter Kenny   | 26.10.2021
WHO committee says no proof of COVID jab should be needed for travel FILE PHOTO

GENEVA

The World Health Organization's Emergency Committee said Tuesday no proof should be required of COVID-19 jabs for international travel, as this would limit global access due to inequitable distribution of vaccines to fight the pandemic.

The committee said in a statement that despite increased use of vaccines and therapeutics to fight COVID-19, the pandemic is far from finished and remains a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

The declaration came after the committee’s ninth mandatory quarterly meeting on the COVID-19 pandemic since it surfaced early in 2020.

A PHEIC is the highest level of medical emergency that the WHO can declare.

The committee said there should be no proof "required of vaccination against COVID-19 for international travel as the only pathway or condition permitting international travel given limited global access and inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines."

It said nations should consider a risk-based approach to the facilitation of international travel by lifting or modifying measures, such as testing and quarantine requirements, when appropriate, following WHO guidance.

WHO chief accepts advice

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus determined that the COVID-19 pandemic continued to constitute a PHEIC and accepted the committee's advice.

The committee also expressed concerns over the challenges faced by the African region in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include accessing sufficient vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics and collecting, analyzing, and reporting epidemiological and quality laboratory data, including genomic sequencing data, required to monitor the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee emphasized that there is a critical need for countries to continue using all available tools.

These include public health and social measures, vaccination, diagnostics, therapeutics, and effective communications to control the pandemic and mitigate its adverse impacts on health and socioeconomic 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," said the WHO.

The committee suggested countries consider revising their preparedness and response plans and assistance policies to account for these interdependencies.

The committee called for the recognition of all vaccines that have received WHO Emergency Use Listing and all vaccine schedules by the recommendations of its group of experts, including in international travel.

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