By Yvonne Akinyi
With global vaccination programs underway, Beijing’s health technology experts are advocating for a digital vaccine passport for foreign nationals who have used the Chinese shot.
The streamlined entry process uses a smartphone app that can certify its user’s vaccination status.
According to Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) will facilitate for visa applicants who have had COVID-19 vaccines produced in China and obtained the vaccine certificate.
China has approved four vaccines, including two made by state owned Pharma giant Sinopharm and Nasdaq-listed biotech firm Sinovac.
However, the vaccine passports is already being criticized for intensifying inequalities in international travel, as only wealthy nations have been able to purchase doses for its citizens.
Although the vaccine passport could get the global economy back on track, it is discriminating against people lacking technology access to certify having the jab or the vaccination
This comes as Kenya seeks to join countries like Pakistan in importing Covid-19 vaccine for private sale.
“I don’t think we have the capacity, as a country and even as Africa, to treat our own,” said Hazel Miseda Mumbo, vice chancellor of the Great Lakes University of Kisumu in Kenya, who has studied the country’s health system.
“While these countries in the West are still scrambling for vaccines, Africa will have to wait. It may be a sad situation,” he added.
Kenya, like many developing countries relies on global mechanism like Covax for purchasing and distributing vaccines.
Dozens of rich nations bought doses straight from pharmaceutical companies, hence delaying shipment to developing world. Countries like Indonesia, Chile and Turkey are already using the Chinese shots.
Chinese embassies in eight countries including the U.S and Philippines have posted similar vaccine policy notices. However, most still require applicants to have a negative coronavirus and antibody test results, or fill out a health travel declaration form.
On the contrary, the visa policy could hurt China’s own citizens’ efforts to travel if other countries were to equally make visit rules strict for Chinese nationals, as it is only using its own covid-19 vaccines domestically.