Go back

‘Indignant’ health ministers oppose Covid-19 vaccine passports

Image: Jernej Furman [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

Summit complains that Africa faces “severe” delays in accessing vaccines

African health ministers have called for a moratorium on international travel bans on unvaccinated travellers, saying they are “indignant” over the dearth of Covid-19 vaccines reaching the continent.

The ministers, who gathered virtually this month to discuss the continent’s Covid-19 response, said in a statement published on 17 May that they “endorse and support” calls for a global moratorium against “the mandatory and unilateral imposition of Covid-19 vaccine requirements for international travel”.

They state that they are “indignant at the fact that Africa faces severe delays to accessing life-saving vaccines for Covid-19 and may experience similar delays in accessing vaccines in future pandemics or outbreak situations”, and that they recognise the threat of SARS-CoV-2 variants emerging in unvaccinated populations.

The summit called on African Union member states to intensify vaccination efforts, and welcomed proposals to waive patents for Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing. It encouraged all countries around the globe to “fulfil the promise of vaccine equity” and ensure that intellectual property waivers are accompanied by technology transfer and know-how to help Africa manufacture its own vaccines.

Support for data innovation

They also hailed a partnership announced during the virtual meeting that will bring together African Union departments to bolster innovative data-handling in Africa. This will “interconnect data streams” and build information repositories to improve coordination in continental efforts such as tracking and predicting pathogens, the statement said.

To help with this, they appeal to AU member states to “invest in acquiring data with appropriate security, and sharing of data in a timely fashion, to help support the continental response efforts against Covid-19”.