VACCINE passports to travel abroad and even gain entry into bars and concerts are "heading this way", one of the country's most prominent public health experts has said. 

Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at Edinburgh University and a member of the Scottish Government's Covid-19 Advisory Group, said Scotland should start preparing for their potential introduction. 

She said it looks like current vaccinations could reduce transmission, which she described as the "missing piece" in tackling the virus.

Ms Sridhar made the comments while giving evidence to Holyrood's Health and Sport Committee. 

She said: "Looking forward, everyone says, 'Well how are we going to get out of this?'

"I think if these vaccines stop transmission, which they look like they might, we will reach a stage of vaccine passports.

"It's already being discussed in the EU. 

"We already have countries like Israel [which] have introduced green cards domestically if you actually have gotten vaccinated. 

"And I think similar to yellow fever, where the WHO [World Health Organisation] has certification if you've been vaccinated, we'll reach a state where aviation will continue – and Spain and Greece are really keen on this for their tourism industries – where you will be allowed to fly and we can have international mobility, but only when people are vaccinated and we have that confirmation that you will not infect others when you travel."

Ms Sridhar later added: "The reason the World Health Organisation has not moved in this way is because we do not yet know conclusively that vaccination status reduces your risk of transmitting to others."

She said some studies have suggested vaccines "seem to reduce people becoming infectious, which is really brilliant, because that's the missing piece, in a way". 

She added: "I think once that's conclusive, they will move towards that."

However Ms Sridhar raised potential inequality issues, with 130 countries currently having no access to vaccines. 

She said "the next stage" could be to introduce a vaccine passport system domestically, such as in Israel. 

She said: "Then you can really start creating an incentive to people, to say if you want to go to the concert, if you want to be able to be active in the places where spreading occurs, then you have to protect and make sure you're not infecting others. 

"So it's heading this way... Scotland needs to be ahead of this and preparing for it, and thinking actually if we're going to do it, how do we do it properly."

Ms Sridhar was responding to a question from Labour MSP David Stewart.