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Vaccine passports to be discussed
Published on: 2021-03-03
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As China has basically contained the virus and the speedy rolling out of vaccination in countries around the world is anticipated to help them control the epidemic, several Chinese lawmakers and political advisors said they will propose the issuance of digital vaccine travel certificates or "vaccine passports" in this year's two sessions to help people get life back to normal.

"China could encourage the public to voluntarily get vaccinated and gradually issue a new passport for those who have been vaccinated," Zhu Zhengfu, a prominent Chinese lawyer and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference said.

Business and travel visas could be issued to people with vaccine passports if they want to go to countries and regions where the COVID-19 epidemic has been effectively curbed, Zhu said.

He also suggested that international arrivals could be exempted from the requirement of 14-day quarantine if they have a negative nucleic acid test report and the vaccine passport, while people in China can travel freely within the country free from nucleic acid testing if they have the vaccine passports.

Zhu also suggested the country promote the mutual recognition of the vaccine passports in the world, to boost international tourism and economic exchanges.

European Union leaders discussed the vaccine passport issue via a virtual meeting on Thursday and Friday to decide whether EU-wide travel would be allowed this summer. But they have not come up with a unified plan, as the leaders of the 27 countries were divided.

Other Chinese health experts also shared their concerns over the EU's plan of vaccine passports, saying it would not be feasible scientifically at a time when emerging new variants of coronavirus raise doubts on the efficacy of vaccines.

Pan Helin, executive director of the digital economy research institute under the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, said that a vaccine passport is not feasible scientifically because it is hard for countries to reach common ground over the efficacy of different vaccines in a short time.

Instead, the expert suggested adopting a vaccine passport domestically to encourage people to take the initiative to receive vaccines.

Pan said there are also possibilities of illegal trade of vaccine passport in the market due to the lack of supervision.

From the economic point of view, the issuance of a vaccine passport will speed up population flow and benefit vaccine production and tourism, Pan said, adding that all these assumptions are based on the precondition that vaccine supply is sufficient.

International scientists have not figured out the real efficacy of vaccines amid virus variants, and it takes five to 10 years to find out the real efficacy, and how long vaccine protection can last also remains unknown, a Beijing-based immunologist who requested anonymity said.




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