18/06/2021

THAILAND DAILY

NEWSPAPER / MAGAZINE / PUBLISHER

top-thai-official-says-vaccine-passports-are-legally-a-matter-for-the-who-under-international-law

Top Thai official says vaccine passports are legally a matter for the WHO under international law

Pragmatic assessment by the man tasked with fighting Covid-19 in Thailand as he emphasised the significance of the World Health Organisation in reopening global borders safely and under international law. The jury is still out on vaccine efficacy he says, questioning how long the doses will continue to work for human beings who are inoculated.

Department of Disease Control boss, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, did not rule out the possibility of vaccine passports up ahead but pointed out that the initiative is clearly one that should be undertaken under the auspices of the World Health Organisation under a 2005 international health protocol agreed by nearly all countries in the world.

top-official-vaccine-passports-legally-who-international-law
Department of Disease Control at the Ministry of Public Health Director-general, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, who on Monday explained that international vaccine passports were in the remit of the World Health Organisation under a binding 2005 law agreed to by 196 countries including Thailand.

As the clamour grows among business leaders, especially in the foreign tourism sector, to speed up vaccination efforts and allow entry to the kingdom to foreign tourists with Covid-19 vaccine passports, the Director-general of the Department of Disease Control, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong pushed back on Monday by insisting that the 14-day quarantine system remains, at this point, the most appropriate and only available option based on best practice.

The senior medical official revealed that the Ministry of Public Health had consulted with the World Health Organisation in Geneva on the issue.

Ministry of Public Health is reviewing the progress of vaccines worldwide and plans for a vaccine passport

Since the end of 2020, the Department of Disease Control has indicated that it was reviewing the efficacy of vaccines across the world and initiatives linked with such passports.

Indeed today, Dr Opas pointed out that vaccine passports already exist and are operated by the World Health Organisation in respect of Africa and South America for yellow fever. Travellers from countries in these regions have to obtain yellow books to cross frontiers.

Vaccine passports will happen suggests Dr Opas Karnkawinpong under a 2005 law linked with the WHO’s fight against international disease

He said he believed an international vaccine passports system would be introduced but emphasised that it would have to be an initiative for the World Health Organisation to oversee according to a 2005 protocol which is a binding regulation signed up to by 196 countries throughout the world including Thailand.

The objective of the regulation is to: ‘prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.’

While Dr Opas believed that such a development will come about in order to relaunch world travel, he pointed out, on Monday, that no country has yet moved forward with such an arrangement.

It has already been pointed out that Thailand already issues certificates of vaccine or prophylaxis under the 2005 protocol.

Dr Opas says we still have to see how vaccines work

The man, ultimately responsible in the kingdom for combating the disease, also poured cold water on hopes that have been raised by the apparent success of vaccine rollouts in the United States and the United Kingdom alluded to by Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University boss Dr Prasit Watanapa last week in an upbeat assessment.

Dr Opas was struck a more a cautious tone than Dr Prasit when he contended that no one was sure of the ultimate impact or effect of the vaccines now being used across the globe.

‘Although Thailand and other countries allow Covid-19 vaccines, no one actually knows at this point the answer to the key question as to whether these vaccines are 100% effective in Covid-19 prevention,’ he pointed out. ‘The reason is there still isn’t sufficient information to conclude that the chance is zero for travellers already vaccinated against Covid-19 to be able to spread the virus to others.’

Raised doubts about how long the jabs work

Dr Opas painted an even bleaker picture when he pointed out that there is also no evidence to suggest, at this point either, how long these vaccines are effective for.

‘It remains uncertain even for how long such Covid-19 shots will last and how many repeat shots will actually be needed.’

Industry leaders and tourism sector enterprises are putting pressure on the government to open up

Last week, a range of tourism bodies and even the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, appeared to be advocating the rollout of vaccines in foreign tourism hotspots to reopen the country to large numbers of incoming tourists as early as the third quarter of this year.

There was also a call from the influential Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) and its Chairman, Supant Mongkolsuthree, who wants to see vaccine passports issued to Thais who needed to travel.

Many business executives in the kingdom are concerned that the ongoing travel restrictions are hindering the development of the economy simply by preventing the pursuit of normal commercial interests in Asia and worldwide.

This was a point made in an open letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha by William Heinecke, the boss of the Minor Group on January 28th last.

Vaccines for foreign tourism workers in July

On a more positive note, the senior official did suggest that a vaccine would be made available to those involved in the foreign tourism industry sometime in July. 

He also suggested that if an international initiative linked with vaccine passports is launched, Thailand would look closely at the possibility of joining but would require satisfactory evidence that the vaccines are effective in preventing the spread of the infection in all cases.

Join the Thai News forum, follow Thai Examiner on Facebook here
Receive all our stories as they come out on Telegram here

Further reading:

Baht losing against the dollar as vaccination success hopes in the United States grow stronger

Public Health minister suggests the kingdom’s vaccination plans are not tied to vaccine plant here

US and UK show a way to end vaccine nightmare says top doctor urging vaccination for ‘herd immunity’

Covid-19 vaccination plan to proceed in February although timescales are have not been made clear yet

Thailand’s vaccination programme will not be complete until the end of 2022 says Health Minister Anutin

Thanathorn facing serious Lèse-majesté charges after Facebook broadcast on vaccination strategy

PM puts brakes on the vaccination rollout with warning that caution is the kingdom’s watchword

Top virologist Dr Yong defends the use of the Sinovac vaccine to protect frontline medical staff at high risk

Gamblers and hosts at illegal gambling dens are being jailed as massive crackdown proceeds apace

Thailand faces its darkest hour against Covid-19 virus as vaccinations due to begin in March

PM criticises employers for using cheap, illegal migrant labour as officials remain on high alert

Thailand mobilising towards faster vaccinations as the Covid virus pandemic reaches new heights

Confirmed: Covid-19 second wave is here with the new outbreak seen as more serious than the first one

Covid-19 situation worsens as local infections now spread to 38 provinces with more red zones on the map

Prime Minister warns employers and bent officials over illegal migrant workers but calls for calm for now

Samut Sakhon flare-up spreads to other provinces but will be brought under control say top officials

Covid 19 outbreak in Samut Sakhon sees province placed under lockdown measures by local officials

Minister Anutin attacks infected Thai women whose actions set back plans to reopen the kingdom’s borders

Myanmar border on alert after shock local Covid positive test on Friday is linked to local smuggling trade

Thai army strengthens security along the Burmese border to defend against super infectious strain of Covid 19

Broken-hearted Swede fears history will repeat itself as shock parting left him stranded in Laos for 4 months

Doors closed to a European diplomat who came from the airport to a Bangkok condo building after flight

Entry for privileged groups tightened up as flack swirls over Egyptian military’s flying visit to Rayong

Mystery Egyptian military flight revealed as exposing Thailand to the Covid 19 virus in Rayong

Agony for stranded western foreigners as ‘Fast-track’ Chinese charter flight jets in from Shanghai

Move to prevent a tourism wipeout as minister pushes 3 phase plan especially targeting Chinese tourists

IATA calls on countries like Thailand to think again over quarantine schemes and travel curbs costing jobs

Only 2,000 foreigners have yet registered to be reunited with love ones as tourism to also reopen

Thai public says No to foreign tourism and also predicts 1 to 2 years for travel to return to normal

Only hope for foreigners locked out of Thailand as easing continues with strict controls on entry

Australian envoy says his embassy and others continue to work on helping stranded foreigners get home

Access to Thailand opening up. It will be cautious, quite expensive with tight regulation and ministry controls

New normal for foreigners seeking access to Thailand even after flights resume if virus persists as a factor

Growing concern and frustration among a large number of expats cut off from their families in Thailand

Australian man’s heartbreak cut off from his Thai wife – begs to be included on repatriation flights

Spouses of Thai wives down under denied access to limited repatriation flights from Australia this week

About the Author

Carla Boonkong is a magazine writer who writes extensively about woman’s issues in Thailand. One of her key subjects is the story of Thailand’s growing influence in the world and the role played by Thai women in the process. She is now a staff writer with Thai Examiner.com in Bangkok. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.

Comments

be the first to comment on this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Take Me Top