COVID-19: Vaccine and testing certificates to be discussed by ministers tomorrow
Written by Hitmix News on 12 February 2021
Ministers will tomorrow discuss a Cabinet Office proposal to introduce vaccine and testing certificates for when international travel is allowed again, Sky News can reveal.
Responsibilities have already been divided up between government departments to look at the idea.
If approved, the Department for Transport will be told to draw up plans for a certificate infrastructure.
Image: The proposal had been drawn up by the Cabinet Office
And the NHS will be told to prepare to let people access their vaccine status when preparing for international travel.
“Formal engagement” with other countries and international organisations will also begin, led by the Cabinet Office.
The Foreign Office, meanwhile, will help design the international certificate system.
Sky News has been told Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has signed off on the proposal ahead of a meeting with other cabinet ministers tomorrow.
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
COVID-19: Will you get a summer holiday?
A government insider stressed there is “nervousness” about when such a system will even be announced publicly, let alone rolled out for use.
A briefing paper prepared ahead of the COVID operations meeting tomorrow and seen by Sky News said: “We should not set even speculative timelines on when this may change border measures.”
Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
The policy will not be implemented until there is “sufficient scientific evidence” from the government’s advisory group known as SAGE on the effects of vaccine and testing certificates.
A government spokesperson did not deny the plan, telling Sky News: “The UK government, like most nations, wants to open up international travel in a responsible safe and fair manner and we continue to be guided by the science.
“We want to ensure there is an internationally recognised approach to enable travel and are working closely with international partners to do so.”
It comes after vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi publicly rejected the idea of immunity passports.
Asked on Sophy Ridge on Sunday about whether the government was looking to introduce them, Mr Zahawi said: “No, we’re not…
“One, we don’t know the impact of the vaccines on transmission; two, it would be discriminatory and I think the right thing to do is to make sure people come forward to be vaccinated because they want to rather than it being made in some ways mandatory through a passport.
“If other countries obviously require some form of proof, you can ask your GP – because your GP will hold the records – and of course that will then be able to be used as your proof that you have had your vaccine, but we are not planning to have a passport in the UK.”
Mr Zahawi stood by his comment in an interview on Thursday with Sky News, but he added: “If people need to be able to demonstrate they’ve had a vaccine, their data is held by the national vaccine and immunisation system, and you have to be able to make that data is available to people if they require it.”
Several months ago, bank note maker De La Rue revealed that it was in early discussions about working on COVID-19 “immunity certification schemes”.
Clive Vacher, chief executive of the company – which as well as currency also makes authentication and security products – said he had been approached by governments and private companies.