The Department of Disease Control official, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, did suggest that Thailand would review the science if, at some point, there is clarity on whether vaccinated people can still transmit the disease and the effectiveness of the vaccines at limiting transmission. The vaccines, according to widespread clinical trials, now provide immunity from infection in up to 95% of cases.
The widespread vaccination programme currently underway in the western world will not mean the opening of Thailand’s doors to foreigners, even with vaccine passports, for quite some time. This week, as the kingdom began to contend with the growing realisation that a second wave had already descended upon it, health officials confirmed that the 14-day quarantine scheme and current entry criteria will be strictly upheld until more clarity emerges on the status of those inoculated through the use of worldwide vaccines.
Thailand’s Disease Control Department Director has indicated that the country’s public health officials have no intention, as of now, in making it easier for those vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus to enter the kingdom.
However, the expert official did suggest that the matter would be kept under review by authorities. Dr Opas said it was too early to tell whether an inoculated person could still be a transmitter of the infection or not. His answer did suggest that this is something that the Thai government will consider when there is more scientific clarity on the matter.
Quarantine will remain at the centre of entry requirements, for now, for those travelling to Thailand
In the meantime, Thailand will be adhering to its strict 14-day quarantine system which is now working effectively within the commercial Alternative Quarantine Scheme run by the Ministry of Public Health in association with a network of luxury hotels throughout the country.
Virus on the march in the kingdom
Thailand is thought to be on the precipice of another national lockdown as infections spiral throughout the kingdom with the number of provinces where local cases are being reported, expanding rapidly.
On Wednesday, it was announced that all non-essential businesses in Pattaya were being shuttered and local authorities in red zoned provinces are currently reviewing the data, particularly in Bangkok, where some measures have already been ordered by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority.
Vaccinations underway in western countries
The news comes as Thailand’s planned vaccination of its population is scheduled for the second half of the year while vaccination programmes are already underway in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom.
It should be noted that the three vaccines currently being used in these countries are the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca jabs, the latter which just got its approval on Tuesday.
These have a 95% efficacy rate according to the latest studies. This means that someone inoculated has a 95% chance of avoiding infection.
What is not known is whether someone can pick up a viral load and while not being infected from it or if they can still transmit the disease to another person?
Of course, the fewer people who are infected because of immunity, the less chance the virus has of being transmitted and this is the basis for herd immunity.
IATA vaccine passport runs into opposition
IATA, the international world airline body, is to introduce a vaccine passport app in the first quarter of 2021, first on Apple phones and then for Android models.
Airlines such as Qantas and other significant flyers had touted the possibility of requiring a Covid-19 vaccine for passengers before flying but this has been questioned as the Airports Council International, a representative body of worldwide airports, has come out against the idea.
Airports body objects to vaccine passport requirement saying it will deter flyers and cause confusion
Airports worldwide are warning that the introduction of various mandatory requirements may dissuade people from flying in 2021 and create more confusion in an already difficult situation.
‘Just as quarantine effectively halted the industry, a universal requirement for vaccines could do the same,’ the Director-General of the ACI was quoted as saying by news agency, Reuters.
Testing is more critical for reopening the skies than a vaccine passport concedes IATA boss
This point has already been accepted by influential IATA boss Alexandre de Juniac who told Reuters that testing was more important than vaccination, at this point, to get planes back into the skies. He said it was ‘more critical to reopening borders than the vaccine’.
However, Mr De Juniac still insisted that the vaccine passport being developed by his organisation had a role to play.
‘The IATA Travel Pass is a solution that both travellers and governments can trust. And it is being built with data security, convenience and verification as top priorities.’