China to launch Chinese version of e-health certificate for outbound Chinese travelers.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that China will launch its version of electronic health certificate for international travellers. Chinese Foreign Ministry today elaborated that the Chinese version of health certificate will be rolled out for outbound Chinese travelers but It did not say anything on its availability for foreigners in China. The certificate will be available in two formats, digital and in paper, with the certificate-holder’s NAT and IgG anti-body test results and vaccination status on record.
Wang Yi at a Press Conference yesterday in Beijing also said that China plans to explore the feasibility for mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccine inoculation with different countries. Chinese Foreign Ministry said that this will facilitate the issuance of visas, thus making cross-border travel much easier and contributing to the healthy, safe and orderly people-to-people exchanges. The moves indicate that in coming times, China may relax some of its stringent travel restrictions for people who can prove they are either immune to the virus or not infected with it. However, it may not be that simple. China has maintained strict border controls during the pandemic, shutting out people from severely affected countries and put travellers to mandatory quarantines. Even though China allowed few categories of foreigners to enter its borders but international students including thousands of Indian students are still not allowed.
Reports suggest that there have been talks in favour of rolling out a ‘vaccine passport’system that would ease some of the restrictions on those entering or traveling through China. Experts believe that vaccine passport initiatives are ‘extremely complicated’ due to countries’ variable travel restrictions, data privacy issues and varied effectiveness of the vaccines to different variants of SARS CoV 2 virus. Different regions use different systems for recording and storing pandemic-related information.
Wang Yi also said that China opposes ‘Vaccine nationalism’. However, accepting each other’s vaccines might be a tricky issue for many countries especially when WHO has approved only few vaccines. WHO’s approval may create a pool of vaccines which may help establish a ‘vaccine passport’ regime but WHO is yet to approve enough number of vaccine candidates.
Wang Yi said China was willing to help the United Nations provide Covid-19 vaccines to peacekeeping forces and help the International Olympic Committee do the same for athletes. China has controlled its domestic Covid-19 outbreak, but its vaccination program lags behind many Western countries. China has so far approved four vaccines developed by domestic drugmakers for public use, including three inactivated-virus vaccines and one viral vector vaccine.