Health Chiefs Reject COVID-19 Vaccine Passport Idea

Opas DDC

Health authorities have dismissed the possibility of applying the World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine passport regulation for international travelling as there is still no proof any vaccines are totally effective in preventing COVID-19 transmission.

Department of Disease Control director-general Opas Karnkawinpong said research into COVID-19 vaccines has not been completed but they are allowed to be used on humans now because they are believed to be effective to some extent in preventing COVID-19 infections.

“Although Thailand and other countries allow COVID-19 vaccines, no 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 Karnkawinpong said.

All countries should follow the WHO’s 2005 International Health Regulations when it comes to travelling from one country to another and the best international agreement on travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic is still a 14-day quarantine, he said.

He was responding to calls for Thailand to adopt the vaccine passport regulation for use on travellers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier last week, the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) urged the government to consider issuing a COVID-19 vaccine passport to Thais who are vaccinated against COVID-19 for use as a certificate when travelling to other countries.

Dr Karnkawinpong said the Public Health Ministry had already consulted the WHO about the possibility of applying the vaccine passport principle.

“The reason is there still isn’t sufficient information to conclude that the chance is zero for travellers already vaccinated against COVID-19 to be able to spread the virus to others,” he said.

“It remains uncertain even for how long such COVID-19 shots will last and how many repeat shots will actually be needed.”

The vaccine passport is currently used with certain types of infections such as yellow fever, he said.

Last Wednesday, JSCCIB member and chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries Supant Mongkolsuthree said foreigners with a similar certificate of COVID-19 vaccination should also be allowed to bypass the strict COVID-19 control measures when entering Thailand, for the sake of tourism promotion.

He also suggested the government make COVID-19 vaccination a national agenda item, with the tourism sector the first to receive vaccines as soon as July.

People working in the tourism industry should be in the first priority grouping, he said.