Udayavni Special

International debate on ”vaccine passports” must focus on ”vaccine equity”: India


PTI, Jun 17, 2021, 8:03 PM IST

New Delhi: India on Thursday said the ongoing global debate on ”vaccine passports” for international travel needs to be linked to the issue of vaccine equity as many developing countries have not been able to vaccinate a large percentage of their population against COVID.

The assertion by India comes after Japanese government announced that it will make ”vaccine passports” available from next month for Japanese travellers.

Asked about Japan”s decision, its implications and whether India would be issuing such ”passports”, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said there was no information with him about India issuing any ”vaccine passport”.

There is an ongoing global debate on the issue of “so-called vaccine passports”, he said and added that India feels that this has to be linked to the larger issue of vaccine equity given that many developing countries have not yet been able to vaccinate a large percentage of their population against COVID.

“We would favour discussions on the subject of vaccine passport with greater focus on vaccine equity,” he asserted at an online media briefing.

Last month, the government had said that the WHO is yet to reach a consensus on the ”vaccine passport” issue for allowing international travel to those fully vaccinated against the coronavirus infection, while noting that discussions are still on.

On some US universities insisting on specific vaccines for incoming students, Bagchi said there is no uniformity in the requirements.

The US government has clarified that vaccination is not a mandatory requirement for Indian students to travel, he said.

“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.

Asked about the supply of vaccines promised by the US, Bagchi said further details regarding the timelines and the quantity of vaccines that the US government has announced are awaited.

On the issue of WHO emergency-use listing for Covaxin, the MEA spokesperson said India is closely following the developments and its expectation is that the process should be completed as soon as possible.

“For details, ask the company,” Bagchi added.

To a question on ”vaccine panel” formed by the government, he said it has been set up under the Niti Aayog and they should be contacted for details about it.

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