After the world health Organization proposed the idea of using a vaccine passport scheme for international travelers, Thailand’s top medical authorities have rejected the idea. According to the officials, there is still a lack of solid evidence in vaccines’ capability to stop the spread of the COVID-19.
According to the Department of Disease Control Director-General Opas Karnkawinpong, the vaccines being distributed today are actually incomplete and not fully developed. Research is still ongoing by the manufacturers, but the jabs have been given authority for emergency use as they are thought to prevent COVID-19 infections.
He said that countries are distributing vaccines because of that belief, including Thailand. However, there is no guarantee that the vaccines can totally prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“[N]o one actually knows at this point the answer to the key question as to whether these vaccines are 100% effective in Covid-19 prevention,” Dr Opas said.
Dr. Opas pointed to the WHO’s own International Health Regulations formulated in 2005 that determines the health aspect of international travel. He then added that the 14-day quarantine is the “best international agreement” all countries should be mindful of with regards to dealing with travelers.
Dr. Opas made these statements after several parties in the private sector called on the government to adopt the vaccine passport regulation. Doing so will help to revive the country’s ailing tourism industry, on which the economy is heavily reliant.
The worldwide ban on international tourism has plunged the tourism industry’s revenues to nearly zero. In response, the government formulated the “We Travel Together” stimulus package in the hopes of encouraging domestic tourism and keep tourism businesses afloat despite the pandemic.
The stimulus package allows locals to enjoy up to THB3,000 in subsidies for air travel and hotel accommodation expenses.
Last week, the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking urged the national government to allow vaccinated Thais to travel using a vaccination certificate as a supporting document to their passport when traveling internationally.
Federation of Thai Industries Chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree also requested to apply the same principle to foreigners who would like to enter Thailand and have already been vaccinated against the virus.
He said that this will promote tourism and allow it to recover after nearly a year of decline as a result of the pandemic.
Mr. Supant further suggested that the government prioritize the tourism industry in the second round of vaccinations in July, and to make immunizations against the COVID-19 a national agenda.
In response, Dr. Opas said that the Public Health Ministry has held talks with the WHO to discuss the vaccine passport principle.
He stressed once again that there is insufficient data that the vaccines give any traveler a zero percent chance of being infected once they receive the shot.
“It remains uncertain even for how long such Covid-19 shots will last and how many repeat shots will actually be needed,” he added.
Thailand’s cases are now at 23,557, with 17,410 recoveries. The death toll so far remains at 79.