A health worker takes a nucleic acid sample for Covid-19 coronavirus at arriving passengers terminal at the Zhuhai train station in Zhuhai, in southern China's Guangdong province on September 27, 2021. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

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A call to end travel discrimination caused by certain vaccines not being recognized across the world has come from the World Medical Association.

In an emergency resolution at its Council meeting today, which opened in virtual form, the WMA said that citizens of some countries are experiencing serious complications in travelling as their vaccinations are not accepted as proof of full protection. Many countries accept only a certain set of vaccines considered as suitable protection, while other vaccines are not recognized.

The Association says this is leading to an effective discrimination against travellers who have been vaccinated. It is restricting international cooperation and business, disadvantaging mainly poorer countries and regions. In some cases it has led to requests from vaccinated people for a third and fourth dose, this time of vaccines accepted as providing the necessary level of protection.

The WMA is now calling on all governments to immediately adapt fair, harmonized and non-discriminatory rules to enable safe and equal travel opportunities, and to inform the public, if serious concerns about specific vaccines hinder their acceptance.

The WMA says it understands the reluctance of pharmaceutical authorities to allow the market introduction of vaccines for which an authorization has not been applied in their jurisdiction, or which are still in the process of authorization, or may have been rejected because their ethical or technical standards of testing or production do not meet the required standards.

But it considers it necessary to evaluate Covid-19 vaccines as a reliable travel measure of protection on the basis only of their effectiveness against infection and severe illness by SARS-CoV 2. By now there are enough data to assess vaccines based on their protective effect, regardless of their marketing authorization. Should vaccines be deemed not to be effective, and therefore not be acceptable as protection, the reasons for such decision should be made public.

Source: The World Medical Association