WHO stops short of advising proof of COVID-19 shots for travel

WHO stops short of advising proof of COVID-19 shots for travel

The World Health Organization has refrained from advising proof of COVID-19 vaccination or immunity as a condition for international travel, citing “critical unknowns” regarding their efficacy in reducing transmission and limited availability.

The WHO’s Emergency Committee, composed of 19 independent experts, held its sixth meeting in a year on Friday as the global death toll from the pandemic reached two million among more than 90 million cases.

The experts issued a series of recommendations, which WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus accepted and sent to the U.N. agency’s 194 member states, a statement said.

“At the present time, do not introduce requirements of proof of vaccination or immunity for international travel as a condition of entry as there are still critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission and limited availability of vaccines,” the WHO panel said. “Proof of vaccination should not exempt international travelers from complying with other travel risk reduction measures.”

Didier Houssin, panel chairman, said that there was currently a “great disparity” among countries about testing, quarantines and travel bans, leading to the world being “a little bit paralyzed, a little bit confused”.

Its advice to WHO was to “take a strong lead in order to produce clear guidance and scientifically based guidance about how best to facilitate and permit the circulation of people in a safe manner by air, by sea”, he told a news conference.

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