Countries that have developed effective vaccines to protect against Covid-19 have every right to be proud of their achievement. But as the world starts to reopen to travel and immunisation rates increase, they have to recognise and accept the accomplishments of others. The World Health Organization is doing that for them with its international panel of impartial experts assessing and certifying those jabs it considers safe and useful additions to fighting the disease. Governments that make decisions based on anything other than science are eroding an accepted mechanism and putting at risk the global recovery. The start of the European Union’s quarantine-free travel for vaccinated people last Thursday highlighted the worrying situation being created. Although the WHO has so far approved for emergency use seven vaccines, the two produced in China and one in India are not widely recognised in Europe and North America. In May, when it announced its decision to restore travel, the EU said it would only recognise those who had received jabs licensed by the European Medicines Agency, although the final decision lay with individual countries. Greece is among the exceptions, opening up to travellers who received vaccines from Chinese firms Sinopharm and Sinovac. Vaccines ‘surest way to prevent deaths’ as Covid-19 toll hits 4 million China does not bar foreign travellers who have had jabs from Western firms Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, issuing visas since mid-April to those who can prove they are fully vaccinated. But it has yet to approve the manufacture and use of the vaccines on the mainland, insisting on carrying out thorough trials to prove safety and efficacy. Protecting the world’s population against the coronavirus has not gone smoothly, with the WHO’s efforts to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines handicapped by the tendencies of some governments to immunise their own populations first. Beijing has been less protective, with Chinese firms holding vaccine trials in developing countries and making them available to poorer parts of the world. Only in recent months, with immunisation programmes well developed, have the United States and European countries been sharing their jabs. Coupled with the block on travel, this risks creating, as the WHO pointed out last week, “a two-tier system, further widening the global vaccine divide”. Resuming business travel and tourism is a key element of getting economies moving again after 18 months of near lockdown due to the coronavirus. Disregarding the WHO’s vaccine approval system and imposing a different standard for the sake of self-interest or on political grounds, will negatively impact economies that are already suffering the most. The WHO and science should always be the guide.