The European Union has started using unanimously the so-called “vaccine passport” as a travel document that allows holders to cross through borders within the bloc.
The EU's health pass applied to those who have been applied the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca vaccines produced in European territory.
The digital certificate aims at reviving travel and tourism in the Summer season, despite threats posed by the new Delta variant of the coronavirus.
The document may be displayed in its digital format from cell phones through a QR code or printed.
It certifies that the bearer is fully immunized with one of the vaccines approved in the EU, tested negative in a recent test or already has immunity from having overcome the infection.
Of the AstraZeneca drug, only the Vaxzevria version produced in European territory is accepted and not the Covishield, manufactured in India and which has reached a larger number of countries through the World Health Organization's (WHO) Covax program.
The pass is valid for travel through the 27 EU countries plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which have joined the initiative.
All EU countries are already interconnected to a single database, except Ireland, which is regrouping from a cyber attack to its health network and hopes to rejoin the project by July 19.
The agreement comes into force at a time when covid-19 cases began to increase after ten consecutive weeks of decline.
As per estimates from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the Delta variant of the coronavirus will represent 90% of cases in the European bloc between now and the end of August, estimated last week, while WHO's European branch foresees that the variant will be dominant between now and August and called for tighter measures during European Football Championship matches to be played in London and St. Petersburg.
WHO European Regional Director Hans Kluge said Thursday that the region’s streak of 10 straight weeks of decline had come to end due to “increased mixing, travel, gatherings and easing of social restrictions” amid “a rapidly evolving situation” – the emergence of the more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus, a situation aggravated by the region’s slow rate of vaccinations.
And German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer called the decision by the organizers of the Euro Cup 2020 “utterly irresponsible” for holding their tournament during a pandemic. In his view, the decision to hold games in stadiums around Europe with largely unmasked crowds of up to 60,000 people was clearly more about commerce than protection. He said that while some localities put restrictions on the crowds, the organization should have made those decisions themselves.
Meanwhile, WHO's African section has said new cases have increased by an average of 25% for six straight weeks to almost 202,000 in the week ending June 27, with deaths rising by 15% across 38 African countries to nearly 3,000 in the same period, driven by variants throughout the continent. “The speed and scale of Africa’s third wave are like nothing we’ve seen before,” WHO Africa Regional Director Matshidiso Moeti said. “The rampant spread of more contagious variants pushes the threat to Africa up to a whole new level.”