China has become the first country to introduce a vaccination passport for travelers to prove that they are free from coronavirus. It has been hailed by proponents as the first step to reopening international travel and reinvigorating the world’s economy.
Since the arrival of vaccinations for COVID-19, there has been a call for a coronavirus vaccination passport to allow those who have been vaccinated to travel.
It is still unclear which countries will recognize the Chinese vaccine passport for coronavirus. However, both the EU and US are considering implementing similar programs and it appears that China has taken the lead in the path to reopening travel.
China’s Vaccination Passport
China’s new vaccine passport for coronavirus is for Chinese citizens only.
It is not yet obligatory, as the country has vaccinated around 4% of its population. However, it will make traveling easier for Chinese nationals who have one.
The idea is that travelers will be able to present it at borders to facilitate health checks and entry requirements.
The Chinese COVID-19 vaccination passport shows the following information about the traveler:
- Vaccination status
- Recent COVID-19 test results
- Recent antibody test results
The vaccine certificates can be downloaded via WeChat by Chinese citizens. They are also available in paper format.
The Chinese vaccination passport for COVID-19 builds on the idea of the IATA Travel Pass App introduced by the International Air Transport Association to help travelers prove their health status when moving between countries.
Vaccination Passports to Boost Travel Industry
The global travel industry has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most countries introduced coronavirus travel restrictions to contain the spread of the virus, which has severely impacted airlines, hotels, and other tourism-based businesses.
With the arrival of various vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca being among the most prominent — it seems that the end of the pandemic may be in sight.
As the vaccines are rolled out around the world, many have called for a certificate or passport to allow individuals who have been immunized to travel abroad once again. This would provide the ailing travel industry with a much-needed boost.
China has now taken the lead in the race to introduce a COVID-19 vaccination passport. Both the EU and the US are planning a similar document.
Vaccination Passports: Benefits and Doubts
The idea of introducing vaccination documents for travel has been met with praise by some, while others have urged caution.
The main advantages would be the ability to travel abroad and the fact that the travel industry, tourism, and economies around the world would be stimulated.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said: “The pandemic is still with us, but the world economy needs to be restarted and people-to-people exchanges resumed with no more delays.”
According to Lijian, the new Chinese vaccination passport will “promote world economic recovery and facilitate cross-border travel.”
Critics point to a lack of evidence that COVID-19 vaccinations definitively prevent transmission, meaning that even individuals who are immune to the effects of the virus might still be able to carry it and spread it to others.
A further issue is that access to vaccinations is uneven around the world, while certain individuals may not be able to have one due to other medical reasons. The concern is that using vaccination certificates as passes for travel or to attend events would lead to inequality between those who have been vaccinated and those who have not.
Despite these reservations, countries like Denmark and Sweden are planning to launch health passports, while the EU is considering a “green pass” for movement between member states. The US is also reportedly considering a vaccination passport.