GPs can give out covid vaccine records if needed for holidays, says Minister
State-issued immunity passports will not be given out - but those inoculated against coronavirus will be able to ask their GP for written proof of their vaccine status if needed for travel, a minister has said.
Downing Street has been adamant that it does not plan to issue so-called "vaccine passports" to allow people to travel once they have had both doses of a vaccine .
But with countries such as Greece stating that they will waive quarantine requirements for those who have been jabbed, ministers are facilitating a way in which UK residents with protection can travel once the lockdown is over.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, asked about whether the Government was considering issuing immunity passports, told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "No, we're not.
"One, we don't know the impact of the vaccines on transmission.
"Two, it would be discriminatory and I think the right thing to do is to make sure that people come forward to be vaccinated because they want to rather than it be made in some way mandatory through a passport.
"If other countries obviously require some form of proof, then you can ask your GP because your GP will hold your records and that will then be able to be used as your proof you've had the vaccine.
"But we are not planning to have a passport in the UK."
Labour's shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said vaccine passports "may be necessary" but raised questions over how they would be used.
"I am saying we should be open to this but there are complications to do this vaccine passport... Is it just for international travel? Is it for as you go about your business in your society?" the former party leader queried.
During his Sunday broadcast interviews, Mr Zahawi looked to allay fears about the more infectious South African variant of coronavirus - which is being hunted in England by door-to-door testing teams - after a study found the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offered only limited protection against mild disease caused by the mutation.
The study, first reported by the Financial Times, into the E484K mutation involved some 2,000 people, most of whom were young and healthy, meaning further data is required.
The Government vaccine tsar said the research showed the Oxford jab "does protect against severe disease".
But Covid-19 researcher at Imperial College London, Professor Robin Shattock, said even though the AstraZeneca variant study was small, it brought with it fresh worries about the South Africa variant.
"It is concerning to some extent that we're seeing that it's not effective against mild or moderate disease," he told BBC Breakfast.
As the virus continues to adapt against the current vaccines on offer, Mr Zahawi suggested an annual rollout of booster jabs was likely to be required.
He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "We see very much probably an annual or booster in the autumn and then an annual (jab), in the way we do with flu vaccinations where you look at what variant of virus is spreading around the world, rapidly produce a variant of vaccine and then begin to vaccinate and protect the nation."
The minister also disclosed that nearly 1,000 vaccines a minute were provided in an hour on Saturday morning as the Government strives to meet its target of giving all over-70s and frontline healthcare workers their first dose by February 15.