WHO calls for caution over vaccine passports

Governments and developers around the world are exploring the potential use of "vaccine passports" as a way of reopening the economy by identifying those protected against the coronavirus.

With the hope of recovering mobility amongst Schengen countries, the EU will present its "Digital Green Pass" proposal on Wednesday (March 17).

The document shows that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as details of any coronavirus tests.

But the idea does not have the support of the World Health Organization.

The WHO's top emergencies expert, Mike Ryan, explains why.

"We have to be exceptionally careful because right now we are dealing with a tremendously iniquitous situation in the world, where the likelihood of you been offered or getting a vaccine is very much to do with the country you are living in, very much to do with the level of wealth, the level of influence that you or your government has on global markets."

He reminded that the WHO advises not to impose certification of vaccination as a requirement for international travel.

China has launched a digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate for its citizens planning cross-border travel.

They join other countries issuing similar documents as they seek ways to reopen their economies.

A few, including Bahrain, have already introduced certificates identifying vaccinated people.

The EU agreed to develop vaccine passports under pressure from tourism-dependent southern countries.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez believes travel certificates would help get things moving again.

"For some sectors, like the tourism sector, it is essential. I have to say that from the bilateral relation point of view and above all the European Council and the works that the European Commission is doing, there is the support of the Spanish government. Obviously every European member state is very interested on developing this project as soon as possible."

Israel also launched a "Green Pass" system granting certain privileges to citizens who have had both doses of the vaccine or have recovered from COVID-19, indicating that despite warnings of inequality, countries are pushing ahead with vaccine passes.