Dystocia of vaccine passport︱Zuo Ding-shan

Published (HKT): 2021.04.07 11:11

While the coronavirus pandemic is still raging across the globe, and being persistent in Europe, the World Health Organization(WHO) denounces the European Union(EU) for screwing up the vaccination program. But to reinstate international travel and rescue global tourism, Western countries have already been discussing the launch of vaccine passports earnestly – those effectively vaccinated against Covid-19 are certified as being eligible for boarding a plane and traveling, but surely only among countries acknowledging vaccine passports. For examples, the EU countries can acknowledge each other; members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations can acknowledge each other; Australia and New Zealand can acknowledge each other; Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand can also acknowledge each other.

Yet, first of all, there must be unanimity among various countries on the choice of vaccine. There are currently seven brands in the market, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford–AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Russian Sputnik V. The BBC estimates that Pfizer or Oxford are most popular around the world. Yet, does China agree?

Having delved into the matter for quite a while, Professor W, who travels to and fro between Hong Kong and the mainland very often, decided to have all his more than twenty family members, including a senior aged above 90, inoculated with Sinovac by his younger brother, a medical practitioner. In view of the fact that the President of Pakistan got contracted after having been vaccinated with Sinopharm, the second jab of Sinovac is exceptionally significant. Professor W said it should be fine, as Sinovac, which is manufactured with a traditional method and mainly made of water, should have least side effects on human beings.

Having made a study of different vaccines, banker G picked BioNTech, as Pfizer will be bound to be acknowledged by the US and Europe, where he travels frequently if a vaccine-passport program is put in practice one day. L who engages in timepieces business is still scratching his head over the options for Sinovac may not be acknowledged by Europe, where he flies to every year for watch and jewelery trade shows, and BioNTech may not be recognized by China, where his factory is located. What should he do? He can’t take both, which means four jabs, can he? Zuo Ding-shan asked professor W for his opinion on this. He said there is no scientific research into the efficacy and side effects of a concoction of two vaccines, hence getting vaccinated with only one brand being a more deliberate choice. L is caught between a rock and a hard place though. Actually, to make it much easier for various governments to issue vaccine passports, the WHO and experts from superpowers exceling in science and technology such as the US, the UK, China, Germany, France and Russia should have reached a consensus beforehand. However, suffering from queries about its prestige and public reliance at the outbreak of the pandemic, the WHO became a lame duck and its capacity to issue any instruction was crippled. Those engaging in global tourism could only wait around anxiously. With the European Football Championship and the Olympic Games in Tokyo supposed to take place in 2020, practitioners in tourism had planned to make a killing. Unfortunately they were rescheduled for this year, but the situation is still looking grim. If vaccine passports cannot be issued in time, it will be highly probable for the two events to be closed-door contests. Seeing the money going down the drain, practitioners in tourism and the host countries, not least Japan, can only blame the WHO and various countries for failing in containing the pandemic.

(Zuo Ding-shan, columnist)

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