Adopted by the 72nd WMA General Assembly (online), London, United Kingdom, October 2021
While international travel has begun to normalize for many of those who have been vaccinated against SARS-CoV 2, fully vaccinated citizens of some countries are still subject to significant travel restrictions, as the vaccines they have received are not accepted as proof of full protection in all countries. Many countries only consider those who have received certain vaccines from specific countries to be fully vaccinated, while other vaccines are not recognized or available.
These practices effectively lead to discriminatory border restrictions against travelers who have been fully vaccinated using vaccine regimens approved in their home countries. This may restrict international cooperation and business, mainly disadvantaging poorer countries and regions. In some cases, it has even led fully vaccinated individuals to request third and fourth vaccine doses in order to provide proof of the required level of protection.
The WMA understands the reluctance of pharmaceutical authorities to allow the market introduction of vaccines for which an authorization has not been applied in their jurisdiction, or which are still in the process of authorization, or which may have been rejected because their ethical or technical standards of testing or production do not meet the required standards.
However, the WMA considers it necessary to evaluate Covid-19 vaccines based solely on their effectiveness against infection and severe illness when determining the reliability of their protection for travel purposes. Presently, there are enough data available to assess the protection offered by vaccines, independent of their marketing authorization status. Should vaccines be deemed to be ineffective, and therefore not acceptable as proof of protection, the reasons for such decisions should be made public.
We call on national governments and the European Union to immediately adopt fair, harmonized, and non-discriminatory rules to enable safe and fair travel opportunities, and to inform the public about any serious concerns that may hinder the acceptance of specific vaccines.