EU Vaccine Passports Draw Close in Boon for Airlines, Hotels
(Bloomberg) -- European Union governments reached a deal on technical standards for so-called vaccine passports, advancing the effort to boost travel to and within the bloc in time for the summer season.
Envoys meeting in Brussels agreed to support a draft legal text setting out specifics for “digital green certificates,” according to an EU statement Wednesday. The documents will provide proof their holders have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, tested negative or have recently recovered from the disease and are considered immune.
Negotiations between the governments and the European Parliament are expected soon after the parliament formalizes its position by late April, according to the statement, which confirms an earlier Bloomberg report. The deal could allow the resumption of hassle-free travel, without quarantine requirements, for vaccine-pass holders by June. Airlines and industry groups have already introduced apps that are capable of incorporating information on tests and vaccine status.
European travel and leisure stocks have gained 20% this year on the expectation that an accelerating vaccine rollout will pave the way for normal travel patterns after a yearlong slump in air traffic and hotel-stays induced by the pandemic.
People vaccinated before the new rules take effect will be entitled to the passes, according to the draft. Those who contract the disease should be recognized as immune from day 11 for about six months.
Governments are “encouraged” to accept all vaccines that have secured World Health Organization approval for emergency use and should recognize certificates issued by non-EU nations, the plan says -- a key to resuming incoming travel from outside the bloc.
The success of the vaccine certificates initiative is contingent on inoculating the bulk of the EU’s population by summer. While the region has lagged behind the U.S. and the U.K., the pace of jabs has been accelerating.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE said they expect to deliver more Covid-19 vaccines to the EU this quarter than currently targeted, after deliveries of Johnson & Johnson’s shot were paused.
Pfizer said it’s “on track to significantly exceed established commitments” by the end of June. The EU is expecting some 200 million doses from the U.S. drugmaker and its German partner, up from about 66 million in the first three months of the year.
Faster deliveries could help to somewhat offset delays linked to the J&J halt. U.S. regulators on Tuesday recommended pausing vaccinations with the J&J shot while they review rare cases of potentially deadly brain clots, similar to those seen with AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine.
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