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Vaccines Minister: Government 'not planning on introducing vaccine passports'

15 February 2021, 22:25 | Updated: 15 February 2021, 22:28

By Megan White

The Government is not planning on introducing international coronavirus vaccine passports, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has told LBC.

Speaking to Iain Dale, Mr Zahawi said the Government was not planning on having passports, but said they wanted to make sure people could easily access their vaccination records and would make certificates easily available if other countries required them.

He also denied that people would need a vaccination certificate to enter shops or restaurants, adding: "No, that's not what we are looking to do."

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Mr Zahawi's comments came after the Prime Minister said he "wants this lockdown to be the last" as he called for Brits to be "optimistic but also patient" about the easing of restrictions.

Mr Zahawi told LBC: "We are not planning to have passports or international passports.

"What we're looking at is to make sure that people can access their own personal vaccination records, and of course you can do that already on the NHS app if you log on and look at your GP and get your history, because the GP will have your vaccination history - it's all held under the National Immunisation and Vaccination System.

"But what we are looking at is if other countries, like for example with the Yellow Fever certificate, require people to show a certificate of a vaccination, so we can try and make it as easy as possible for people to have that certificate of their vaccination.

"Of course, people have to have a pre-departure test, and then a test after two days and a test after eight days of quarantine if they're coming from a country of concern, a red country, then they have to - if they are resident in the UK or UK nationals - they have to quarantine in a hotel, otherwise they can't travel here.

"Of course otherwise, if they're not from those countries, they can quarantine at home, but they still have to have the three tests - pre-departure, two days after and then after eight days of arrival."

Mr Zahawi was also asked about inconsistent messaging from the Government after mixed messaging about the passports.

He told Iain: "I think actually sometimes people have different interpretations of what it means to have a vaccine passport.

"If we're talking about vaccine certificates, where some countries will, as the Prime Minister has said, they may require them to travel to those countries, then we want to make those accessible to the individual."

Asked about Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab's comments that shops or restaurants may require evidence of vaccination, Mr Zahawi said: "No, that's not what we are looking to do.

"I think what, as the Prime Minister has said, you'll find will happen is these rapid testing technologies, where like with the pre-departure test, if you're able to have rapid testing because that's the most reliable way of knowing if somebody has got Covid.

"Of course we don't yet know the impact of the vaccination programme on transmission or of course on infection.

"Now the early data from Israel is really positive, some of the early data from the Oxford team is really positive, but until we have our own Public Health England reliable data from the two big surveys that they're carrying out - one with frontline health workers, one with residents in care homes - we don't know the impact of the vaccines on transmission yet so it would be wrong to assume that.

"The best thing is testing at the moment, and I think the Prime Minister is right, the future will probably be around rapid testing as well as a national vaccination programme and probably a re-vaccination programme in the way we do flu vaccines every year."