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COVID-19

‘Green pass’: European Commission to propose EU-wide vaccine passports for summer

Europeans may be allowed to travel more freely this summer with a new digital vaccination passport in a plan set to be laid out by the European Commission.

'Green pass': European Commission to propose EU-wide vaccine passports for summer
An Israeli woman shows her "green pass" (proof of being fully vaccinated against the coronavirus) before entering the Green Pass concert for vaccinated seniors. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP

Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced the plan for a “digital green pass” in a speech to German lawmakers on Monday and then added some details on Twitter.

The “digital green pass”  would provide proof that a person has received the vaccination as well as test results for anyone who has not yet been vaccinated. It would also include information on recovery for anyone who has previously contracted Covid-19.

“The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism,” von der Leyen tweeted.

 

The Commission will present the legislative proposal this month. Von der Leyen said, it will “respect data protection, security and privacy.”

The news could provide a significant boost to Europe’s tourism industries ahead of the summer. 

Leaders of the EU27 met last week to discuss a joined-up approach but no united plan was announced.

Spain and other southern countries have repeatedly requested that the Commission introduce a certificate. Greece had already announced it would create its own vaccine passport system, agreeing a digital “Green Pass” with Israel and entering talks with the UK.

An independently reviewed, real-world study of the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine in Israel found it had cut transmission in symptomatic cases by 94%, according to data published in the well-regarded New England Journal of Medicine.

However, last week, Angela Merkel told German newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung: “First, it must actually be clearly resolved that vaccinated people are no longer infectious.”

“As long as the number of those who have been vaccinated is still so much smaller than the number who are waiting for vaccination, the state should not treat the two groups differently.”

President Macron also raised concerns about the fairness of vaccine passports on young people at the EU27 virtual meeting. 

In the UK, Downing Street confirmed that UK officials will speak to their EU counterparts after Brussels unveiled plans for the passport, Politics Home reported.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “You can expect [the Department for Transport] will work [with], and do speak to countries across the world in terms of how they may look to introduce passports.”

 

Member comments

  1. Does anyone know when Americans will be able to visit, we have a 2nd home, if they have sometype of vaccine passport? Thanks!

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COVID-19

German health agency expects number of Covid ICU patients to rise

The Covid pandemic is continuing to cause problems around Germany, with concerns that the number of patients needing treatment will rise in the coming weeks.

German health agency expects number of Covid ICU patients to rise

In its weekly Covid report, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said that confirmed infections appeared to be rising in some German states, and falling in others.

But experts warned that the situation remained tense, with many infections not reported. 

Therefore, in the coming weeks, “hospitalisations, an increase in intensive care treatment and deaths are to be expected, especially among the elderly”, said the RKI.

People over the age of 80 “continue to be most affected by severe courses of the disease”, the experts said in their report. 

The incidence of infections is continuing to rise for this age group, and the number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in medical treatment facilities as well as in old people’s and nursing homes is going up.

READ ALSO: Which Covid rules are likely to return to Germany in autumn?

The number of patients with Covid-19 being treated in intensive care units (ICUs) is also rising slightly. In the previous week, the number was reported to be around 1,330. And on Thursday July 28th, 1,550 people were in ICUs in Germany with 484 receiving ventilation treatment, according to the DIVI intensive care register. 

The number of deaths in connection with the virus is currently around just over 400 per week. The RKI says this trend is a plateau.

When it comes to the overall picture of Covid in Germany, the RKI said there was a “sideways movement rather than a decreasing trend”.

Last week, the nationwide 7-day incidence decreased slightly compared to the previous week. The overall picture shows falling incidences in most western German states and Berlin, with incidences still rising slightly in the other eastern German states and Bavaria.

The RKI estimates there’s been a total of 800,000 to 1.5 million people with Covid (who also have symptoms) in the past week alone in Germany.

Last week experts warned that they expected the Covid situation to get worse in the coming weeks as many schools in Germany return after the summer break.

READ ALSO: Germany’s summer Covid wave set to get worse

The Omicron sub-variant BA.5, which has dominated in Germany since mid-June, has almost completely displaced other variants. It accounts for 89 percent of samples in the past week, the RKI said.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned people against underestimating getting Covid again.

The SPD politician pointed out that it was very easy to become infected with BA.5 – even for those who were infected with a previous type.

He warned that many could become seriously ill or die, plus there’s the risk of picking up Long Covid.

“Therefore, we have to solve the problem not by constant infection, but by better vaccines,” Lauterbach said.

‘Call things as they are’

Lauterbach, meanwhile, defended himself against his choice of words when describing the possibility of a new dangerous Covid variant emerging in autumn. 

In an interview with Bild newspaper in April he said: “It is quite possible that we will get a highly contagious Omicron variant that is as deadly as Delta – that would be an absolute killer variant.”

He was slammed for his dramatic choice of words. 

This week Lauterbach said: “I use few vocabulary that is apocalyptic. But sometimes you have to call things as they are.”

If there were a virus that linked the contagion of the BA.5 variant with the severe course of a Delta variant, “that would be a killer variant”, he maintained.

But he stressed that he had “not said that such a variant is definitely coming, but that we have to be prepared for such a variant”.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister calls on under 60s to get next Covid jab

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