WHO looks at possible 'e-vaccination certificates' for travel

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The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend countries issuing "immunity passports" for those who have recovered from COVID-19, but is looking at prospects of deploying e-vaccination certificates like those it is developing with Estonia.

Estonia and the United Nations health agency in October started a pilot project for a digital vaccine certificate - a "smart yellow card" - for eventual use in interoperable healthcare data tracking and to strengthen the WHO-backed COVAX initiative to boost vaccinations in developing countries.

The reality of vaccinations is growing, since Britain on Wednesday approved a COVID-19 shot from Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech, while other companies Moderna and AstraZeneca have delivered positive trial data amid their push for approval.

"We are looking very closely into the use of technology in this COVID-19 response, one of them how we can work with member states toward an e-vaccination certificate," said Siddhartha Datta, Europe's WHO program manager for vaccine-preventable diseases, told reporters on a call from Copenhagen.

He cautioned that any technology initiative must not overwhelm countries in the midst of pandemic responses, must conform to varying laws and ensure seamless border-crossing service.