One major challenge of vaccine passports, loosening travel restrictions for those who can prove they’ve been vaccinated, is deciding which vaccines count.
- Is the AstraZeneca vaccine as good as Pfizer?
- Is one Pfizer dose enough, if one Johnson & Johnson dose counts?
- What about Russia’s Sputnik vaccine which is probably underrated?
China has announced its first ‘vaccine passport’ policy reducing restrictions for people traveling from Hong Kong to mainland China but only for people who have had Chinese-made vaccines.
China raised the stakes in the international vaccine competition on Saturday, saying that foreigners wishing to enter the Chinese mainland from Hong Kong will face fewer paperwork requirements if they are inoculated with Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines.
…China is trying to increase the international appeal of its shots, even as scientists and foreign governments urge Chinese vaccine makers to be more transparent with their clinical trial data.
The Sinopharm inactivated virus vaccine, in use not just in China but in places like the U.A.E. and Bahrain, has looked pretty good with 79% effectiveness against symptomatic Covid-19. There’s even been speculation that it could wind up being most effective against new variants of the virus, since it introduces the body to the entirety of SARS-CoV-2, and not just the spike protein like most Western vaccines do. It’s the spike protein’s mutations which have caused greater infectiousness.
However the U.A.E. is now giving third doses of the vaccine to individuals with weak immune responses.
In one trial Sinovac’s vaccine saw only 50% efficacy yet it’s accepted for reduced restrictions entering China – but the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca vaccines are not.
With Hong Kong’s border largely closed, the policy is largely applicable only to those already in Hong Kong (where Sinovac and Pfizer-BioNTech are being adminsitered) and those residents permitted to return to Hong Kong. Thus, it’s largely symbolic, but it’s certainly not a move guided by any semblance of science.
(HT: Marginal Revolution)