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Green Pass for sharing recognized COVID-19 vaccine certification, easing free circulation of people in Europe. EMA’s Monthly Workshop of 24th March 2021

This March 2021 EMA’s WEBINAR, announced on March 18th, 2021, chaired by Vincenzo Costigliola, President of the European Medical Association (EMA, hosted by MEET   without any need of preliminary registration and no application to be downloaded in personal pc, since the webinar was webcasted, for professional post-graduate educational purposes, open to everybody and without fees.

Comments of the permanent observation and discussion group on the current COVID-19 pandemic were summarized by EMA's Director for Media, Prof. Guglielmo Trovato, MD, that provided the framework of the questions and debate.

This is the report of the key points raised, and preliminarily agreed by the Participants. It is here proposed as a draft of a position paper of the European Medical Association.

  1. The European Medical Association already warranted last year, since March 15th 2020, https://www.facebook.com/EuropeanMedicalAssociation/posts/2007295882742…

calls for actions on the following topics and lines of intervention:

  1. Counteract the infodemics of fake news, namely focused on negationism, no-mask and no-vax misinformation.
  2. Ask the EU Commission, National Governments and stakeholders, mainly public health authorities and managers, to enhance the population use of mask protective devices, with the expectation and hope of a quick availability of effective vaccines.
  3. In this forthcoming scenario of universal COVID-19 vaccination, EMA suggested a wider use of an update of the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP), the so-called Carte Jaune or Yellow Card. This is already in use worldwide, for allowing safe traveling and hosting.
  4. The model of Timatic (Travel Information Manual Automatic) may be a premise for a widely recognized travel pass.
  5. Certified vaccination documents should be made universally available and recognized for access to work, in industry, commerce, transports and hosting, particularly in subset of food management. Priority to health professionals, military and police personnel is a preliminary task.
  6. Even a partial protection against contagion will be a sufficient reason for allowing the use of vaccine certification as an opportunity for a greater opening and circulation of people across frontiers and at the critical barriers, such as airport, train and ship check-in.

  In March 2021 the European Commission is proposing to create a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate safe free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The working group Members of the European Medical Association, coordinated by the Media EMA’s Director, are very happy of this announcement, but expresses concern for the not explicit involvement and commitment of the UE States offices responsible for rules and actions.

EU Green Pass seemed a quite redundant overlap with the already existing international Yellow Card. Moreover, it is not clear to which authorities (seemingly only in the airports, but not reasonably in any European frontiers place, not existing anymore) this certification should be shown and for which purposes.

What is clear is that “The Digital Green Certificate can serve as proof of vaccination, testing and recovery in order to waive restrictions to free movement put in place in a Member State on public health grounds, such as testing or quarantine requirements.”  

After the “free movements”, or access to some place, Country or Town, no other restriction is present. It should be required, in our view, the same certification for all the personnel of hosting and food facilities, and for the accueil of people going for using such facilities.

Another matter of concern is that:

 

  1. “The Commission said the digital infrastructure to facilitate the certificates will be set up by summer.” It is not clear how this certification will become mandatory inside all the EU States: the necessary steps, also with a strategy of dissemination for sharing consents, are needed.
  2. For people who receive a coronavirus vaccination before the certificates are established, the commission said Member States should issue vaccination certificates. It is not clear if the already existing vaccination certificates issued with a qr code sticker will have priority and immediate mandatory use and acceptance throughout Europe. This is a very reasonable point and EMA warrants that this basic action should be pursued ASAP (weeks, if not days), because it would increase interest and requests of COVID-19 vaccination, fighting hesitations and negationisms.

 

The below itemized points, as issued by the Commission, are also very relevant:

 

  • The "Digital Green Certificate" will allow European Union citizens to travel freely across the bloc as countries around the world grapple with how best to reopen borders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Digital Green Certificate is digital proof that a person either has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the virus.
  • It will be in digital or paper format that contains a QR code with a digital signature to protect against forgery and falsification and is completely free, the commission said. Each issuing body, a hospital, testing center or health authority, will have its own digital signature, all of which are stored in a secure database in each country.
  • The European Commission will develop a "gateway" where all certificate signatures can be verified across the EU.
  • The certificate will be accepted in all EU member states and "will help to ensure that restrictions currently in place can be lifted in a coordinated manner." It will contain a person's name, date of birth, date of issuance, relevant information regarding a vaccine, test result or recovery and a unique identifier.
  • The information will not be retained by visited countries, only the validity and authenticity of the certificate is checked by verifying who issued and signed it. All health data will be stored by the country that issued the certificate.
  • When traveling, EU citizens or those legally staying and residing in the bloc who possess a Green Certificate will be exempted from travel restrictions. Member states that continue to require certificate holders to quarantine or receive negative COVID-19 tests "must notify the commission and all other member states and justify this decision." "The certificate is an opportunity for member states to adjust the existing restrictions on public health grounds. This proof of people's COVID-19 status should facilitate travel,"
  • It is also working with the World Health Organization to ensure that the digital certificates can be recognized elsewhere in the world, as well.
  • For people who receive a coronavirus vaccination before the certificates are established, the commission said member states should issue vaccination certificates. The member states will have to accept the vaccination certificate as an exemption to free movement restrictions.
  • The system is a temporary measure and will be suspended once WHO declares the end of the pandemic.

CONCLUSION. The workshop participants agree that all responsible parties and Citizens must be on guard against all actions, based on fake news, which have the effect of diminishing the effects of a mass vaccination for the prevention of such a disease with a high mortality and disability rate. Systematic debunking interventions are necessary, especially at the level of primary care and territorial medicine. In fact, this is one of the strategies that EMA already spreads actively among its members. Free movement of Persons in Europe and around the world is the prerequisite for restoring cultural interactions at the level of study, research and medical procedures. These last often are needed to be done exclusively in centers of excellence. One of the most compromised educational-academic schemes is that of Erasmus actions in Europe, scarcely substituted by e-learning courses and platforms currently in use.

 

Note: EMA is a partner of the GDPR for Health Project and of the IProcure Security Project.

 

The focus of the involved EMA’s staff and of the participating EMA’s Members is ethical commitment, scientific update, data privacy guarantee, equity and reliability needs within emergency choices and actions amid the COVID-19 Pandemics.

If wished, you may participate to this fully anonymized survey, in four languages, among our Members and EMA’s Social Media followers, Medical Doctors and other health Professionals. Its aim is to investigate which agreement is currently present regarding few topics and controversies on the proposal of delivering a “health passport” for allowing free circulation of European Citizens in Europe without restrictions, delays or quarantine periods. Go to: https://forms.gle/CooEkTJyrDre2gfX8 .  Only one form per responder can be filled.

 

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