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World Medical Association calls for end to COVID-19 travel restrictions

By Chukwuma Muanya
12 October 2021   |   4:20 am
Medical doctors under the aegis of World Medical Association (WMA) have called for an end to travel restrictions and discrimination caused by certain vaccines not being recognised across the world.

PHOTO: Twitter/NiDCOM

Medical doctors under the aegis of World Medical Association (WMA) have called for an end to travel restrictions and discrimination caused by certain vaccines not being recognised across the world.

In an emergency resolution at its council meeting, which opened virtually yesterday, WMA said citizens of some countries are experiencing serious complications in travelling as their vaccinations are not accepted as proof of full protection.

WMA is the independent confederation of national medical associations with 115 constituent members representing more than ten million physicians. Acting on behalf of patients and physicians, the WMA endeavours to achieve the highest possible standards of medical care, ethics, education and health-related human rights for all people.

This came as a chief consultant family physician, past president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and current President of Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA), Dr. Osahon Enabulele, was last week appointed as president-elect of WMA.

The association, in a statement signed by WMA Secretary General, Dr. Otmar Kloiber, and WMA Public Relations Consultant, Nigel Duncan, condemned the travel restriction.

“It is restricting international cooperation and business, disadvantaging mainly poorer countries and regions. In some cases, it has led to requests from vaccinated people for a third and fourth dose. This time, of vaccines accepted as providing the necessary level of protection,” it said.

The WMA called on governments to immediately adapt fair, harmonised and non-discriminatory rules to enable safe and equal travel opportunities, and inform the public, if serious concerns about specific vaccines hinder their acceptance.

WMA said it understands the reluctance of pharmaceutical authorities to allow the introduction of vaccines for which an authorisation has not been applied in their jurisdiction, or which are still in the process of authorisation or may have been rejected because their ethical or technical standards of testing or production do not meet the required standards.

According to the statement, the WMA considers it necessary to evaluate COVID-19 vaccines as a reliable travel measure of protection on the basis only of their effectiveness against infection and severe illness by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Type 2 (SARS-CoV 2).

“By now there are enough data to assess vaccines based on their protective effect, regardless of their marketing authorisation. Should vaccines be deemed not to be effective, and therefore not acceptable as protection, the reasons for such decision should be made public,” it noted.

It will be recalled that the United Kingdom imposed COVID-19 travel restrictions even on vaccinated Nigerians wishing to enter its territory. The UK government, however, lifted the restrictions last week, following global outcry.