WHO advises against proof of COVID-19 vaccination for int'l travel

By Liu Qu

GENEVA, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee on COVID-19 on Friday advised countries not to require proof of vaccination or immunity for international travel as a condition of entry.

The advice is on the ground that "there are still critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission" and that the current availability of vaccines is too limited, the committee said in a statement on its sixth meeting, which was held on Thursday.

The committee concurred that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Meanwhile, it noted that WHO should rapidly develop and disseminate its policy position related to requirements for proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travelers.

WHO should coordinate the setting of standards for digital documentation of COVID-19 vaccination status, the committee added.

On SARS-CoV-2 variants, the committee called for increasing worldwide capacities for genetic sequencing and encouraged data-sharing and greater scientific collaboration to address critical unknowns.

The committee also urged WHO to develop a standardized system for naming new variants that avoids geographical markers.

While calling for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, a WHO-led international initiative for COVID-19 vaccines, the committee strongly encouraged vaccine manufacturers to rapidly provide safety and efficacy data to WHO for emergency use listing, as the lack of such data is a barrier to ensuring the timely and equitable supply of vaccines at the global level.

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