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More on the vaccine passports from Reuters:
Officials said the EU was working with the International Air Transport Association, which is keen to revive air travel, and with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Health Organization.
But travel with certificates also raised legal questions, officials said, because those last in line for vaccinations could argue their freedom of movement was unjustly restricted by the often months-long queues.
EU officials also point out there is no guidance yet from the WHO and EU agencies whether people who have received two shots of the Covid-19 vaccine can still carry the coronavirus and infect others, even if no longer vulnerable themselves.
It was also not clear if people could be infectious having already fought off the coronavirus themselves, for how long they remained immune and if they too should get certificates.
There is also suspicion that such schemes could provide a way in to greater monitoring of people’s movements and health statuses, a paper published in the Lancet says.
However, it added, they could facilitate safer movement and the privacy concerns are neither unique nor insurmountable.Earlier in February, Greece and Israel signed a deal to ease travel restrictions to Greece for Israelis with proof of vaccination.
EU states split over vaccine passports, to debate issue
EU leaders will tomorrow debate the issue of certificates of vaccination for EU citizens who have been vaccinated against Covid.
Reuters reports that with the rollout of vaccines now gathering pace, some governments, like those of Greece and Spain, are pushing for a quick adoption of an EU-wide certificate for those already inoculated so that people can travel again.
However, other countries, such as France and Germany, appear more reluctant, as officials there say it could create de facto vaccination obligation and would be discriminatory to those who cannot or would not take a jab.
France, where anti-vaccine sentiment is particularly strong and where the government has pledged not to make them compulsory, considers the idea of vaccine passports as “premature”, a French official said today.
Pfizer vaccine found 94% effective in landmark real-world study
The first big real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be independently reviewed shows the shot is highly effective at preventing Covid-19, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies, Reuters reports.
Up until now, most data on the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines has come under controlled conditions in clinical trials, leaving an element of uncertainty over how results would translate into the real world with its unpredictable variables.
The research in Israel– two months into one of the world’s fastest rollouts, providing a rich source of data – showed two doses of the Pfizer shot cut symptomatic Covid-19 cases by 94% across all age groups, and severe illnesses by nearly as much.The study of about 1.2 million people also showed a single shot was 57% effective in protecting against symptomatic infections after two weeks, according to the data published and peer-reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.
The results of the study for the Clalit Research Institute were close to those in clinical trials last year which found two doses were found to be 95% effective.
The study also suggests the vaccine is effective against the variant first identified in the UK. Researchers said they could not provide a specific level of efficacy, but the variant was the dominant version of the virus in Israel at the time of the study.
The research did not shed light on how the Pfizer shot will fare against another variant, now dominant in South Africa, that has been shown to reduce the efficacy of other vaccines.
Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage o f the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.
I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next few hours – as always, you can find me on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
The first big real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be independently reviewed shows the shot is highly effective at preventing Covid-19, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies.
And EU leaders will on Thursday debate the issue of certificates of vaccination for EU citizens who have been vaccinated against Covid.
Here are the key developments from the last while:
- A Danish study suggests that people infected with a British variant of the coronavirus codenamed B117 may have a 60% higher risk of being hospitalised, health minister Magus Heunicke said.
- Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid vaccine protects against is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe forms of the virus, and is safe to use, according to an analysis by US regulators ahead of a final decision on the jab.
- The EU is “catching up” with the UK’s coronavirus vaccination programme, the European commission president has insisted as Hungary’s government started to administer a Chinese vaccine in the face of shortages, with Belgium the latest to warn of “serious delays” to its schedule.
- The Swedish government has said it would reduce opening hours for all restaurants, bars and cafes as well as tighten limits on the number of people allowed in shops as it seeks to ward off a third wave.
- Switzerland is to start easing out of its lockdown from 1 March, the government has said, confirming preliminary plans to open shops, museums and libraries and allow outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people.
- Denmark is also to ease some shopping restrictions and allow schools in parts of the country to reopen on 1 March, the government said, potentially allowing hospital admissions to triple in the coming month.
- EU leaders will tomorrow debate the issue of certificates of vaccination for citizens who have been vaccinated against Covid, amid reported disagreements within the bloc – with some firmly in favour and others more reluctant.
- Israel’s parliament has passed a law allowing the government to share the identities of people not vaccinated against Covid with other authorities, raising privacy concerns for those opting out of inoculation.
- A senior adviser to Democrat Joe Biden in his campaign for president believed “Covid is the best thing that ever happened to him”, a new book reports.
Source: The Guardian
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