GENEVA

The COVAX facility on Thursday urged all government authorities to recognize as fully vaccinated all people receiving COVID-19 doses deemed safe and effective by the World Health Organization (WHO).

This came as countries and travel agencies across the globe battle to find an acceptable worldwide standard for those crossing international boundaries.

Travelers often have to scramble through confusing regulations regarding COVID testing and vaccines, with different countries recognizing jabs from different companies that have WHO approval.

“COVAX was built on the principle of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines to protect the health of people all across the globe,” said a COVAX statement.

“That means protecting their lives and livelihoods, including their ability to travel and conduct trade.”

In a June 27 speech, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus observed that with the support of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and COVAX, 47 Africa countries started vaccinating against the pandemic.

“However, the volumes of vaccines are nowhere near enough. So far, Africa has administered just over 45 million doses, or 1.6% of the global total,” said Tedros.

COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and is co-convened by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Travel begins to open up

“Any measure that only allows people protected by a subset of WHO-approved vaccines to benefit from the re-opening of travel into and with that region would effectively create a two-tier system,” COVAX warned.

“It would negatively impact the growth of economies that are already suffering the most,” COVAX said.

It said such moves are already undermining confidence in life-saving vaccines that have already proven safe and effective.

“At a time when the world is trying to resume trade, commerce, and travel, this is counter-effective, both in spirit and outcome,” the facility added.

COVAX praised countries that have already shown commitment to equity and safety by accepting travelers protected by all vaccines validated by WHO Emergency Use Listing and the 11 Stringent Regulatory Authorities approved for COVID-19 vaccines.

“We call on other nations and regions to do the same,” it said.

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