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Global debate on ‘vaccine passports’ must focus on ‘vaccine equity’: MEA

Earlier this month during a G7 ministerial session, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had stated that India 'strongly opposed' vaccine passports, as they would be "highly discriminatory and disadvantageous".

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 17, 2021 9:27:32 pm
Vaccine passport, EUMinistry of External Affairs spokesperson stated the global debate on vaccine passport needs to focus on vaccine equity. (File)

Amid the ongoing global debate on “vaccine passports”, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Thursday stated that it needs to be linked with vaccine equity as many developing countries have not been able to vaccinate a large percentage of their population.

In a daily press briefing, MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi asserted that India “would favour discussions on the subject of vaccine passport with greater focus on vaccine equity,” while responding to a query on Japan’s decision to issue “vaccine passports” to Japanese travellers from next month.

Top Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato had told reporters, “We are preparing to issue a certificate of vaccination for those who need one… when they visit foreign countries,” news agency AFP had reported earlier in the day.

The European Union, too, has approved the use of digital Covid certificates, allowing holders to travel to any member country freely.

Earlier this month during a G7 ministerial session, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had stated that India ‘strongly opposed’ vaccine passports, as they would be “highly discriminatory and disadvantageous” because there was a huge difference in the percentage of populations vaccinated in developed and developing countries.

On another occasion, last month, the Health Ministry had stated that World Health Organisation (WHO) is yet to reach a consensus on the “vaccine passport” issue.

Regarding the students joining universities in the US, Bagchi stated that the US government has clarified that vaccination is not a mandatory requirement for Indian students to travel. He added that there is “no uniformity” in the requirements of different universities on acceptable vaccines.

“I also understand that there are multiple conversations going on between our students and the universities. We would obviously support our students. I think everyone concerned is interested in ensuring that the students are able to reach the universities and undertake regular classes and we hope that a constructive solution is found,” he said.

He added that they are monitoring the discussions with WHO over emergency use approval of Covaxin.

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