WHO warns against vaccine passports

Qantas has been a vocal advocate for the use of digital health passports for all international passengers, but the World Health Organisation has warned against making vaccine passports mandatory for international travel, saying it would be discriminatory particularly for poorer countries.

The WHO’s Dr Mike Ryan described it as “a complex issue”.

“There are ethical issues regarding equity, we already have a huge issue with vaccine equity in the world,” he said at a news conference.

“The imposition of requirements for certification of vaccination before travel could introduce another layer or such inequity.

“If you don’t have access to a vaccine in the country then you will effectively become isolated as a country as vaccine passports kick in.

“So there are many, many, many issues.”

The issue is a divisive one, with the UK, which has already vaccinated two thirds of its adult population, currently debating the use of vaccine passports.

The Biden administration in the US has said it will not mandate vaccine passports on a federal level leaving to the states to deal with. Texas and Florida have already banned them.

Australia appears to being warming to the idea and is planning how such a system might work. But given the woefully slow rollout of vaccines, any hope of international travel based on a vaccine passport seems a distant aspiration.