Immunity passport idea ‘premature’

Introducing so-called vaccination passports has been downplayed by the French government but it has not been ruled out

28 January 2021
By Connexion journalist

The idea is for people to carry a certificate showing they have had the vaccine, giving them more freedom in daily life. It would allow people who have had the jab access to air travel or other services. The idea has been downplayed by the government but it has not ruled it out.

A recent poll found that more than three-fifths of the public (62%) would support the idea of making vaccination passports mandatory for plane travel abroad.

Europe Minister Clément Beaune has said it is too early to be discussing the concept.

“This is a very premature debate. To have a passport today that would give more rights to some than others would be shocking. It is not our understanding of protection and access to the vaccine,” he said.

Another senior figure, former minister François Bayrou, who currently has an advisory role to the government as high commissioner of planning, said he favours the idea.

“I have been insulted for defending it,” he said in an interview on Radio Classique. “But it’s very simple: we must reopen the country.”

He said the passports could be used for access to a wide range of services, such as bars and restaurants or university lectures.

One private company, ICC AOKpass, has been anticipating its introduction.

The firm is running a trial of a product in France that allows users to store medical information, such as Covid test results or vaccination status, on a secure mobile phone app. The trial is being run for passengers on the Etihad flight between Charles de Gaulle, Paris and Abu Dhabi.

Passengers who have taken PCR tests can upload the result into the app, which creates a QR code that can be scanned by airline staff.

Company spokesman Darren Toh said they are aiming for “full deployment” after the trial ends.

“I can’t say it will be introduced across all of France. We will take things airline by airline, airport by airport,” he said.

“Vaccines do not exclude the possibility that passengers can still carry and re-infect others. So, for airlines, the results of tests will be more relevant at least until the science around vaccines is resolved.”

He hopes that ICC AOKpass will soon be used widely around Europe and that it can facilitate the return of travel.

On January 24, France introduced stronger travel restrictions to prevent the spread of more contagious Covid-19 variants.

Anyone entering by plane or boat from other EU countries must now present a negative PCR test (antigen tests are not accepted) to travel companies, taken within 72 hours. This does not apply to people arriving by car or train, and there are exceptions for cross-border workers.

A negative PCR test is needed for anyone coming from the UK and they should also voluntarily self-isolate for one week and then take a second PCR test.

Anyone arriving in England from abroad must present a negative test – PCR or certain other approved ones – as well as self-isolating for 10 days.

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