EU to propose digital vaccination passports
BERLIN/BRUSSELS • The European Commission will present a proposal this month on creating an EU-wide digital Covid-19 vaccination passport that may allow Europeans to travel more freely over the peak summer holiday period.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced the coming legislative proposal in a speech to German conservative lawmakers on Monday, providing more details in subsequent tweets.
The "digital green pass" would provide proof that a person has been vaccinated, results of tests for those not yet vaccinated and information on recovery for people who have contracted Covid-19.
European Union leaders agreed last week to work on vaccine certificates, for which southern countries such as Spain and Greece are pushing to unlock tourism this summer.
However, a number of countries say it will first need to be established that vaccinated people cannot transmit the virus to others. Some countries, such as France and Belgium, also expressed concern that easing travel only for inoculated people would be unfair.
Probe launched after Japan vaccines spoilt
TOKYO • Japan said an investigation would be launched after more than 1,000 coronavirus vaccine doses had to be thrown out when a freezer storing them malfunctioned.
A medical institution reported that 172 vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were rendered useless after the freezer breakdown over the weekend, Japan's Health Ministry said yesterday, wasting up to 1,032 doses.
Japan began its inoculation programme on Feb 17 - just over five months before the Tokyo Olympics - and has so far approved only the Pfizer-BioNTech drug.
Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said yesterday that the cause of the malfunction was not yet clear, but the firm that installed the freezer would investigate and report back.
France widens use of AstraZeneca jab
PARIS • France will allow people under 75 with existing health problems to get the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the Health Minister said, departing from an earlier stance that the vaccine should be for under-65s only.
The reassessment is likely to help speed up France's vaccination campaign, which many have criticised as too slow.
As of last Saturday, 4.55 million people had received at least one shot of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, which compares with 6.17 million in Germany and up to 20.9 million in Britain.
Health Minister Olivier Veran told France 2 television that raising the age limit would enable 2.5 million more people to get vaccinated in the coming weeks. People aged 75 and over would continue to get only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, he said.
When the AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use by European Union regulators this year, France and other countries including Germany, Italy and Austria said it should not be given to the elderly, citing a lack of sufficient data.