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World Health Organization Advises Against Vaccine Passports

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As the world’s travel industry attempts to come back to normality, the World Health Organization (WHO) has spoken against vaccine passports.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee stated that countries should not require vaccination passports for international travel. The intervention comes amid growing controversy around countries blocking unvaccinated travelers from entering as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 

covid19 travel pass app

The WHO’s independent experts stated vaccinations shouldn’t be the only condition to allow international travel because of the inequality around vaccine distribution. However, as parts of the western world return to normality, many parts of the developing world are witnessing their worst outbreaks. 

Southeast Asia — an area that kept COVID-19 cases low during 2020 — is seeing record levels of COVID-19. Vaccination rates in many Southeast Asian countries (many of which rely on tourism) are very low. Access to vaccines is challenging, and many Asian countries haven’t vaccinated 10% of their population. 

These nations rely on western or Chinese vaccines because most Southeast Asian nations haven’t created their own vaccines. Therefore, Southeast Asian countries are waiting for western countries to vaccinate their populations before donating vaccines. 

In addition, parts of Africa, the Middle East, and South and Central America have low vaccination rates. That leaves many citizens from these nations unable to travel if countries demand vaccine passports for the next 12 months. 

The WHO’s body of experts also asserted that vaccine passports deepen inequality and promote unequal freedom of movement. Nevertheless, countries are still introducing vaccine passports as an entry requirement in many parts of the world. 

The Current State Of Global Travel 

The pandemic has battered the travel industry in the last 18 months. There really isn’t any other way to put it. The United Nations predicted the travel industry would lose $1 trillion. Their report states that around one in ten jobs is reliant on the success of the travel industry. 

Furthermore, the initial impact in 2020 cost the travel industry three times more than the Global Economic Crisis of 2009 following the collapse of the Lehman Brothers. Countries such as Thailand, Italy, and Spain — all of which have huge travel industries — have lost massive chunks of their GDP thanks to border closures. 

The United States is the world’s worst-hit country from the travel industry’s demise. The country lost $150 billion during 2020 because of border closures, and it remains closed to most of the world, including Europe. 

NYC Skyline

Countries are desperate to reopen and have mostly decided vaccination passports are the only way forward. The European Union launched its COVID-19 digital certificate earlier this month. The scheme allows travelers to enter the Schengen Zone if they have proof of vaccination. Travelers will need to have evidence of full vaccination on a smartphone app. 

Nonetheless, the EU still has a traffic light system. The system puts countries in a green zone, orange zone, or red zone. Green zone travelers can enter with zero quarantine, but orange countries may require testing. The EU advises against allowing fully vaccinated travelers to enter the Schengen Zone if they’re coming from a red zone country.

EU flags

The Future Of Travel 

Whether travelers agree or not, it seems like vaccine passports are the only way countries will permit entry anytime soon. Unfortunately, most of the world remains closed, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and most of Asia. 

Western nations such as Australia — which has completely closed its border since March 2020 — have discussed allowing vaccinated travelers to enter next year. Thailand and Bali are set to reopen gradually over the next 6 months, but on the premise that travelers have received full vaccination. 

Sydney, AU

Travel is almost certain to return to full strength in the next 18 months. But the rules around travel are going to be unclear and controversial.

READ MORE:

Travel Insurance That Covers Covid-19 For 2021

Italy Drops All Restrictions For Vaccinated US and Canadian Travelers

France Imposes Several New Travel Restrictions Due To Delta Variant

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


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Karl

Wednesday 21st of July 2021

Everybody that is vaccinated is happy about this. I just traveled around Europe without any PCR test. I traveled into Europe from the Middle East without PCR test. I can now safely enter some countries that would not allow unvaccinated traveler’s either. I’m happy with that.

With that said, what particularly people on the other side of the spectrum would like you to believe is that this is black and white. That withers you’re pro vaccine or against it. That is fat from the case. A lot of people just need a little push to understand that enough people need to get vaccinated.

You currently see this push implemented in countries like Malta, Portugal and France.

These people are not afraid or don’t want to get vaccinated, they rather just think “if others do, then I don’t have to” (a lot of my friends have this mindset).

With more and more of them finally getting vaccinated, people have to understand that — against everything that you were taught — that your individualism doesn’t matter.

Governments and politicians only care about getting re-elected. With the majority (or close to it) in many countries now vaccinated, benefits being granted to the ones that are, and that making up the majority of the population — it is safe to assume that this path will in fact continue.

Personally, I think that if you live on your ow , remotely, you don’t go to restaurants or the movies, enter airplanes and similar — fine, don’t get vaccinated. That’s on you.

If you however go to any place where your freedom edges on the ones of others, some of which might joy be able to get the vaccination, than your decision will have consequences limiting your freedom.

Get vaccinated.

Rebecca

Thursday 22nd of July 2021

@Karl, first all, you can't talk on behalf of everybody.

Secondly, your argument is basically "get vaccinated because many people are doing so". That's not invalid, to say at least because a heard behaviour is often times wrong.

Thirdly, the US, for the most part, has banned vaccination passports and that's good. And hardly any country have them except EU.

And there're backlashes against vaccination passports too.

And you? You've gotten vaccinated against the virus of mortality rate of 1% .... or 0.1% if we include those who recover at home and thus don't make into statistics.... only out of convinience? And pressure from TV and social media? Or what? If so, that's way beeeeeeyond my comprehension.

And why are you even worried as to come here and persuade others to do so?

jenny

Tuesday 20th of July 2021

Very good decision of WHO, in a long time

Leonardo

Sunday 18th of July 2021

Okay, if a person of a developing country doesn't have access to a vaccine yet, does this person also have money to an international travel as a tourist? (because most countries allow holders of work, residence and other visas to enter)

Jason

Sunday 18th of July 2021

WHO can say whatever nonsense they want, but put the entire world in pause just to wait all the developing world vaccination rate to catch up, in the expense of hundreds of millions of people and billions of economy in the developed world is also not fair. Sorry but nobody forces any country to be developed or developing, it is what it is, we have to face the reality. Like it or not, vaccine passport is not perfect but at least it is a reasonable solution before this pandemic ends god knows when.

jenny

Tuesday 20th of July 2021

@Jason, if you're such a vaccinated puritan, how does that matter to your whether others vaccinated or not? Your vaccine protects you, doesn't it?

Or you don't believe even your own vaccine while calling others to vaccinate?

Christian

Monday 19th of July 2021

@Jason, Since when is medical apartheid a reasonable solution?

Mark

Monday 19th of July 2021

@Jason,There are lots of people who dont want to take the vaccine no matter if its available or not so there shouldn't be any vaccine passport cause that is DISCRIMINATION,you need to respect those people.

Witness

Sunday 18th of July 2021

@Jason, or just open everything up and stop counting cases..haven't you caught on by now? This isn't about a virus and there is no justifiable documentation to call this a pandemic. Politicians need to stop thinking they are immortal gods. Heads need to roll.