The World Health Organization has said vaccine passports should not be required for international travel.

The global health agency made the statement because it found there are still “critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission”.

Its latest position paper states: “At the present time, it is WHO’s position that national authorities and conveyance operators should not introduce requirements of proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travel as a condition for departure or entry.”

“National authorities should choose public health interventions that least infringe on individual freedom of movement,” the WHO said.

“In the context of unequal vaccine distribution, individuals who do not have access to an authorized COVID-19 vaccine would be unfairly impeded in their freedom of movement if proof of vaccination status became a condition for entry to or exit from a country.”

The paper claims that scarce vaccines could be taken away from vulnerable people if vaccination passports become essential for travellers, whilst the authors also advise that inoculated travellers should not be excepted from PCR testing requirements when visiting a country.

Ireland’s Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said the government is currently discussing the possibility of introducing vaccination passports, but had told the media he was waiting on advice from international experts.

EU leaders are expected to finalise plans for a vaccine-passport system later today, although it remains to be seen what impact the latest WHO statement will have.

“We call for work to continue on a common approach to vaccination certificates,” a draft statement by EU leaders says, according to Reuters.

Some EU officials fear citizens will claim their right to freedom of movement has been infringed in the absence of available vaccines, whilst they also await more information on the transmissibility of the virus following inoculation.

Officials in Brussels have been working with the WHO and International Air Transport Association in order to assess the best approach going forward.