Relaxation through rapid tests ?: Merkel: EU vaccination certificate should allow travel

Relaxation through rapid tests?
Merkel: EU vaccination certificate should allow travel

More and more EU states are pressing for clear rules for returning to freedom of movement within Europe. Chancellor Merkel reports on preparations for a vaccination pass. However, this should not alone decide who is allowed to travel. The vaccinations would take longer anyway.

Chancellor Angela Merkel assumes that the EU vaccination certificate can be developed by the summer. "The political requirement is that this can be achieved in the next few months, I was talking about three months," said the CDU politician after the EU video summit. The certificate is intended to enable vaccinated persons to lift restrictions if necessary. "Everyone pointed out today that this is currently not the issue with the low level of vaccination among the population. But you have to prepare," emphasized Merkel. But that does not mean that in future only those who have a vaccination certificate will be allowed to travel. "No political decisions have been made about this yet."

At the same time, the Chancellor agreed that the population of the European Union may need vaccinations for a long time. Because of the mutations, "we must always be able to vaccinate over a long period of time." In the EU, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary are currently particularly affected by the British mutation.

Countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Austria are urging people who have been vaccinated to travel easier. Greece and Cyprus have already concluded agreements with Israel on the future entry of vaccinated persons. Some EU countries such as Poland and Romania already give vaccinated people advantages, for example when entering the country.

The agreement at EU level is far from that far. So far, the 27 EU states have only agreed that there should be mutually recognized proof of vaccination. A database for registering vaccinations and a personalized QR code for vaccinated people are planned. However, Germany, France and others have concerns about attaching advantages to the document – among other things because it is unclear whether people who have been vaccinated can pass on the virus.

Rapid tests are not a panacea

Regardless of the vaccination certificate, Merkel also dampened hopes for a very quick and comprehensive relaxation of the strict contact restrictions with the introduction of the corona self-tests. First of all, it must be carefully checked "whether we can work out a buffer with these self-tests by doing more testing so that we can go slightly higher than 35 in the incidence." In spite of the self-tests, you can neither do without incidences in general nor open them immediately.

Merkel said that "it could not be the case that we first define the opening and then see whether the testing helps us. That would be too dangerous in my view." The self-tests and the availability of rapid antigen tests in large numbers would offer a new option. Then you have to see what effect that has. "And then you can think about whether that would give us a little more space to open. But not without sacrificing any incidence."

The necessary broad tests have three components, said Merkel: schools and day-care centers, in companies and offers for testing the population in test centers. You need precise information about the effectiveness of the self-tests compared to the rapid antigen tests. In addition, clarity is necessary as to whether the increase in infections can really be stopped with more testing.

All the steps could not be taken at once, said the Chancellor. Packages would have to be put together from the areas of contact restrictions, schools, universities as well as shops, restaurants, hotels, art and culture and sports. Several strings might have to be connected to form packages. There must always be a time between the opening steps in which it is checked whether one can continue to control the infection process.