The vaccine passport, a documentation that shows the traveller has been vaccinated against COVID-19, would be the "only way" to restart mass air travel, said Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths.
No other alternative to vaccine passport is in sight to resume global aviation in the manner in which it existed in pre-COVID times, said Griffiths, who heads the operations at the world's biggest airport for international passengers.
Griffiths told BBC on May 15 that he supports the idea of vaccine passport as it is "inevitable". "I don't think there is an alternative," he added.
On the criticism that the system of vaccine passport would discriminate against those who cannot be inoculated, the Dubai Airports chief argued that the focus should be on equitable global distribution of vaccine.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"I think the problem is not the vaccine passport and its discrimination. It's the need to roll things out and have a proper globally equitable vaccine programme," BBC quoted him as saying.
Among those who have objected to the idea of vaccine passport are the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Travel & Tourism Council.
Critics of the proposed system claim that it would create a "two-tier society" and exclude scores from global aviation.
At a press briefing in March, WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan flagged the real practical and ethical considerations" for countries considering using vaccine certification as a condition for travel.
"Vaccination is just not available enough around the world and is not available certainly on an equitable basis," the Associated Press had quoted him as saying.Against this backdrop, vaccine passports might allow "inequity and unfairness (to) be further branded into the system", Ryan had further said.