The World Health Organisation's (WHO) special envoy on Covid-19 Dr David Nabarro has said vaccine certificates are a good idea but should not allow people to travel as "we're not ready for that yet".
Speaking to RTÉ radio's Claire Byrne show, Dr Nabarro said enough people have not yet been vaccinated to allow for non-essential international travel, adding he did not think such a level of inoculation would come in the next three months.
He said vaccine certificates were an excellent idea as everyone should know what vaccine they had received, the batch number and manufacturer: "Just in case they bump up against a variant".
Responding to reports about possible bi-lateral travel agreements between countries, Dr Nabarro cautioned that people should wait before making any holiday plans.
In a few more weeks there would be much more clarity about travel during the summer months, he said, adding he was hopeful there would be more opportunities to travel within the European Union this summer.
While he was nervous, he was also hopeful: “I have my fingers crossed like everybody else.”
Dr Nabarro warned this is a “difficult and potentially dangerous time” as case numbers drop and people “let up” from taking protective measures, adding it was important that people continue to practice personal protection to avoid going back into lockdown.
Responding to results in a poll in The Irish Times that indicated strong support for reopening society and the economy, he said society needed to be respectful of the virus and maintain precautions.
The "new normal" would have to be respect for the virus, but not to go backward into lockdown he said.
Dr Nabarro also paid tribute to the Irish health authorities for identifying the variants that had arrived into the country.
The country could not be closed forever, people needed to travel into and out of the country, he said and the capacity to “pick up the emergence of variants” were necessary to quickly identify any spikes and outbreaks.
Dr Nabarro said he has not been vaccinated yet, and he would take whatever vaccine was offered to him.
He added that he had huge respect for political leaders, but he worked on scientific and technological advice.