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Brussels backs EU-wide vaccination certificates

Brussels backs the idea of a certificate identifying people vaccinated against the coronavirus, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Friday, although she held back on whether it could offer privileges to holders.

“It is a medical must to have a certificate that you have been vaccinated,” von der Leyen told reporters ahead of a visit to Portuguese capital Lisbon, offering her support to a proposal from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

But she added that “whether that gives a priority or access to certain goods, this is a political and legal decision that has to be discussed on the European level”.

The World Health Organization in December trailed plans for digital vaccination certificates as countries began rolling out shots to their populations.

But beyond keeping track of who has been inoculated, WHO experts “do not recommend immunity passports” that would supposedly assure bearers were protected against Covid-19 after vaccination or surviving infection, the UN body’s senior emergency officer for Europe Catherine Smallwood said at the time.

Tech-savvy Estonia last year began testing an app that could serve as a kind of digital “immunity passport”, allowing users with antibodies to show employers and others their supposedly reduced risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Greek PM Mitsotakis on Tuesday urged the EU to create a “standardised” vaccination certificate to boost the tourism industry after it crumpled under the blow of the pandemic.

“Persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel,” Mitsotakis wrote to von der Leyen, adding that the question was “urgent”.