The vaccine brand, passport to enter Europe or not: a new form of discrimination?

Green Digital Certificate o Green Pass. It is the “COVID passport” that has just entered into force in the European Union (EU) and allows fully vaccinated people, who have a negative virus test or have recently recovered from the disease, to move within the block. But pay attention to the first part of the requirements.

Most of the inoculated Argentines – of course, who do not have European citizenship or have not been vaccinated abroad with the appropriate brands– they will not be able to access that passport Covid free to enter Europe.

So far, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has only approved the Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Not the Chinese Sinopharm (nor Sinovac, which does not apply here), nor the Russian Sputnik V. Nor Covishield, which has the same formula as AstraZeneca but the EMA considers it different due to its production location, in a laboratory yet to be evaluated in India.

Precisely, the Chinese and Russian vaccines are those administered mostly in Argentina, and of the Covishield of applied 580,000 doses that arrived in February. Trademarks not approved by the EU were also applied in Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Peru. Thus, Latin Americans with these vaccines are now unable to enter most European countries.

Is it discrimination? Is it the right of a block to protect its community? Is inequity in access to vaccines taken into account and that in Argentina, for example, you can’t choose which one to apply? In this note, some responses from the highest health authorities in the region, from bioethics, constitutional law and, also, sociology.

What PAHO says

Does the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recommend health passports? No. Or not as the only measure. And it asks the EU to approve all the vaccines that they do approve. It is worth remembering that Sputnik is not yet one of those approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). Yes, it is Sinopharm and, in this case, European countries can allow the entry of those vaccinated, but are not obliged to do so.

“A proof of vaccination should not be required to undertake a trip. For several reasons. One is that we know that even if people are fully vaccinated, there is a risk of contagion and contagion. A vaccination passport could create a false sense of security. On the other hand, there are many countries that do not have sufficient access to vaccines, and requiring that passport from travelers will increase inequity “, they detail from PAHO before the consultation of Clarion.

The answer becomes ambiguous compared to the specific case of the European Union. “The Green Pass is a measure for the selective application of travel, less strict, that was introduced by closures that were maintained for a long time. However, applying only that measure in terms of restrictions is not enough,” they add. PAHO always found it more effective isolation and testing of travelers than any other instrument for tourism.

The debate merges between the bioethical recommendations and the legal recommendations, in terms of Human Rights. The 2005 UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights establishes that states must promote a equitable access to advances in medicine, science and technology and their rapid use.

Its article 15 punctually marks that, in times of pandemic, all people should be able to enjoy the science that allows them to be saved. In times of coronavirus, that translates to a dose or two.

Another hot spot that arises is the promotion of public health on the individual and commercial interest. And the issue of individual freedoms (which links directly to the heated local controversy over the stocks of flights to avoid the entry of the Delta variant) is quite a topic. Are you restricted with a passport Covid free?

“The European Union is a block that works with common policies. If they do not approve a vaccine, for whatever reason, the answer is as a block: ‘Those who have the vaccines that I have recognized will enter here. With others, no’ . It is a theme of sovereign decision of the EU. Afterwards, what happens in each of the countries, such as Argentina, where Pfizer did not enter, the European Union cannot take over, “says constitutional lawyer Andrés Gil Domínguez.

Double standard

Although the Covid passport may seem that it pursues a legitimate purpose, Ignacio Maglio, lawyer and member of the Board of Directors of the UNESCO Bioethics Network, says that it is necessary to stop and analyze it precisely. Because it can also be an instrument of discrimination.

“It can establish a double standard: that there are citizens with a human right, such as free movement, and other people without those rights,” he starts. In terms of the universal human rights system, this is not just a health separation, it is “negative discrimination”.

It implies an exclusion and it does not have the necessary elements, according to the United Nations (UN), so that an act is not considered in terms of discrimination, “Maglio continues. Those elements are: be” reasonable, objective and pursue a legitimate purpose. “

Why is it not legitimate, if it was decided to protect the citizens of a certain community? The expert looks up from his Argentine navel and thinks about the challenge of the world.

There are more than 100 countries where not even a single dose of the vaccine has been administered. This is the first thing one might say. Despite the European Union saying that this is not going to become a problem for free movement. If not, why does it arise? Argentina does not have the same access to vaccines, as a universal good, as other countries, that is key. Behind all this there are always the limitations of people who cannot get vaccinated, “he says.

What does sociology say about this sort of epidemiological visa? Daniel Feierstein, who in addition to being a sociologist is a doctor in Social Sciences from the UBA and author of the book Pandemic, a social and political balance of the Covid-19 crisis (FCE), clarifies that “it is very complex to answer.” But it is encouraged.

“The general creation of a Covid passport makes sense. What happens to those who do not have the requirements because they do not have such vaccines? They should be allowed the instance to vaccinate them or offer them the possibility of quarantining in hotels. So that it is not just control, but also offer alternatives. If not allowed, it is worrisome“, he points out. Why? Because the vaccines accepted by the EU, he says, are not necessarily the most effective, but those produced in western countries.

“With the level of Sputnik and Sinopharm applications in our country, there is evidence of effectiveness. That they are not accepted today shows the geopolitical use of vaccination processes, “he inquires.

Before any immune passport, in the Zoom of universities or congresses of Bioethics and Law, the debate is first about the release of patents on vaccines, which would lead to breaking the fence of the “stocks” of the production of a formula by such laboratory or country and would allow its free manufacture and distribution. That, which was once considered a possibility, never happened.

What was fulfilled was the promise of having a paper –or a QR– that allows Migrations to pass through according to the liquid that entered your arm.

AS

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