ROME – Almost as soon as the Mediterranean authorities announced that no one who had not been vaccinated against COVID-19 would be able to travel to Sardinia, Cyprus or the Greek Islands this summer, fake vaccine certificates began to appear on sale on the black market for around 100 € each. And now that Europe’s immunization program is in full swing and the standardized state-mandated health cards that are obtained after receiving COVID jabs are readily available for creative counterfeiters to copy, there is no need to not much of a imagination to see how a relatively inexpensive fake document might allow anyone who couldn’t or didn’t want to get vaccinated but still want a sunny beach vacation can sneak past the checkpoints. ‘Entrance.
European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has strongly supported the introduction of a ‘COVID passport’ that would allow tourists to bypass quarantines and even invasive smear tests to tickle the brain. they can prove that they have been vaccinated. “It is a medical requirement to have a certificate proving that you have been vaccinated,” she said last week, after a measure was introduced by Greece to make vaccination passports compulsory for people. trips to the EU, as for those who travel to many African countries. to prove that they received a vaccine against yellow fever.
But the practice of standardizing this so-called “proof” of vaccination will take much longer than the short months leading up to the summer to put in place, meaning that fraudulent vaccination certificates are not the only problem that challenges in question the provisional plans of the European Union. The biggest concern is that the 27 member states of Europe, which struggle to agree on almost everything, are somehow getting together to agree on what the proof of vaccination should look like in practice.
Many countries are already moving forward with their own version of special entry permits. Denmark has already put in place a plan to offer digital vaccination passports to its vaccinated citizens to allow free movement within the country. Estonia is introducing an electronic yellow card, which would allow vaccinated travelers to update their health records on an app. And in Iceland, which is not part of the EU but benefits from the Schengen Treaty at open borders, vaccination passports are already taken in place of COVID-19 swab tests before arrival.
Poland, Portugal and Spain have legislation on vaccination passports ready for parliamentary votes and in Hungary ‘proof of immunity’ in the form of a vaccination or antibody test that shows a complete cure from the virus is enough to bypass quarantine requirements. In Italy, which is going through a delicate government transition, several measures have been taken to ensure the validity of such a document given the country’s experience in fraudulent organized crime. In France, the tourism industry has accused the government of “dragging its feet” on a comprehensive plan that could include updatable digital certificates instead of a passport which could include a traveler’s COVID history, immunity.
The UK, now excluded from the EU thanks to Brexit, is also considering its own brand of proof of immunity that would allow vaccinated people to go to restaurants, pubs and – if other countries allow – l ‘airport.
But the introduction of a vaccination passport or any other document that would deem someone “immune” goes beyond the obvious challenge of logistics. The simple fact that only rich countries currently have the best access to vaccines and tests prevents an entire segment of the population from even dreaming of hitting the road to Europe, making discrimination another problem the EU can on purpose. foster by requiring vaccines as a shortcut to the holidays.
Many companies across Europe, and even the Vatican in Rome, have warned that employees risk losing their jobs if they refuse a photo they make sure they are available. But there are countless other countries that have not yet been able to launch their immunization programs due to supply shortages thanks to richer countries gobbling up the vials, and who simply do not yet have the type of infrastructure in place to even provide vaccines. volunteers, let alone demand that skeptics get vaccinated.
But none of these efforts to get back to normal will work unless all countries agree to recognize proof of immunity, whether through antibodies or one of many vaccines. “For certificates to work internationally, they need to be recognized by countries around the world,” Swedish Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren said this week. And that can still prove to be the biggest challenge.
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