The World Health Organization is working on "a smart digital certificate," WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said, making a point of distinguishing it from a “vaccine passport.”
"We encourage very strongly – as with any vaccine – that there is a documentation, whether this is paper-based or preferably digital. And that's why WHO is working on a smart digital certificate,” Kluge said during a news conference Thursday.
“But this is something different than a passport. We do not encourage at this stage that getting a vaccination is the determining whether you can travel internationally or not. It should not be a requirement," Kluge said.
Kluge cited several reasons for the distinction:
- First, an ethical one: "There is a global shortage of vaccines. So this would increase the inequities, and if there's one thing that we learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is that the vulnerable people got hit disproportionally."
- Second, he said, there is scientific reason: "We are not sure yet how long the immunity lasts.” And, he said, people who have been vaccinated may still be able to transmit the infection.
- Third, there is a "practical reason." Kluge said that, as WHO is working within an "international trusted framework, we have to document whether people got the vaccine."
Kluge’s comments come a day after the European Commission unveiled its proposal for a "Digital Green Certificate," or vaccine passport, to allow for safe and free movement within the EU during the pandemic.