Vietnam considering vaccine passports at tourist sites, golf courses: official hinh anh 1Dang Quang Tan, Director of the Health Ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnam is considering piloting vaccine passports at tourist sites and some golf courses, according to Dang Quang Tan, Director of the Health Ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department.

WHO yet to recommend vaccine passport application

The pandemic continues to spread quickly around the world, with 600,000 - 700,000 new cases and 1,000 - 2,000 deaths each day on average.

Vietnam has now gone nearly one month without any community transmissions, but the pandemic is developing complicatedly throughout Southeast Asia. Several regional and neighbouring countries are experiencing new outbreaks due to large gatherings of people.

Tan said that following the direction of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Health is working with relevant ministries to come up with a plan to deploy vaccine passports in Vietnam.

A vaccine passport is a certificate given to a person who has enough vaccinations as recommended by manufacturers or state management agencies.

However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has yet to recommend the application of vaccine passports. Globally, only Singapore is piloting a vaccine passport scheme on a very narrow scale.

Tan mentioned three reasons for Vietnam not yet accepting “vaccine passports”.

Firstly, vaccination can only reduce and limit the severity of the disease when one gets COVID-19. 

Secondly, countries administer different COVID-19 vaccines such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Sputnik V and Sinovac with different protection effects.

Thirdly, the application of vaccine passport depends on herd immunity. Many countries with high rates of COVID-19 patients or widespread vaccinations will have high herd immunity.

The pandemic in Vietnam has currently been controlled with a low rate of community infection, but the rate of vaccinated people is not high and the herd immunity level remains low. Therefore, the risk of community infections and outbreaks is very high if someone enters the country with the novel coronavirus. Furthermore, the virus has been mutating and the vaccines may be ineffective or less effective against new strains.

"The protection effect of the vaccines, meanwhile, is also very different for each person and the duration of vaccine protection is not yet clear, so it is difficult to determine the validity period for a vaccine passport," he said.

Studying and piloting models

According to Tan, Vietnam’s successes in warding off the third pandemic wave in the northern province of Hai Duong have proven the Party’s effective leadership, and the strength of the entire political system.

The official said that the Ministry of Health and many agencies are still developing plans on vaccine passports and considering countries to apply, methods of application - multilateral, bilateral or consensus between countries – types of vaccines and means of transport.

“Initially, we have agreed that those who are fully vaccinated according to recommendations by manufacturers and experts would have quarantine period shortened,” he said. “However, the proposal must be approved by the Ministry of Health or the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.”

Currently, a number of localities such as the central province of Quang Nam and Phu Quoc island are proposing pilot vaccine passports for short-stay tourists playing golf or resting without much moving.

According to Tan, this model requires local authorities, public security forces and relevant sides to impose strict management as in fact, there were many cases when people in quarantine zones tested negative once, but their tests turned out positive several days later.

“We are studying how countries around the world apply the vaccine passport to design trial models in small areas such as golf courses or small resorts,” the official said./.