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Travel rules for vaccines are widening the gap between China and the West

(Bloomberg) – With the resumption of global travel on the horizon, some people are discovering that their choice of vaccine can dictate where they can go. Marie Cheung, a Hungarian citizen, regularly travels to mainland China for her work with an electric car. vehicle business, a routine interrupted by lengthy compulsory quarantine stays since the start of the pandemic. of the two vaccine options available in the city – one from Sinovac Biotech Ltd. from China and another developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE – Cheung plans to sign up for Sinovac for easier entry and exit from the mainland. Meanwhile, her British husband will go for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, she says to increase his chances of visiting family in the UK. “For people who have to work on the mainland or return to the mainland, the Chinese vaccine is the only one. option for them, ”said Cheung. “Westerners will only choose the vaccine that is recognized by their home country.” As vaccination efforts increase around the world, a patchwork of approvals in countries and regions is laying the groundwork for a global split of vaccines, where the shot you get can determine which countries you can enter and work with. Europe may allow Americans vaccinated with injections approved by their drug agency to enter during the summer, the European Commission president suggested in an interview with the New York Times on Sunday. But it is in China that this trend is most evident, with the country so far only recognizing shots made by China and its vaccines not being approved in the US or Western Europe, forcing some Chinese citizens to regularly go abroad – and Western nationals. to pursue business opportunities in the world’s second largest economy – in a dilemma of what to choose. For millions of people worldwide who cannot choose which vaccines to receive, the risk that more places will become selective about which shots they recognize, especially given the different efficacy rates of the vaccines, creates the possibility that even fully vaccinated still limits people’s travel could be – with implications for international business and the tourism industry. What’s the Best Covid Vaccine? Why It’s Not So Simple: QuickTake “A global distribution of people based on vaccine adoption will only exacerbate and continue the economic and political ramifications of the pandemic,” said Nicholas Thomas, associate professor of health security at City University of Hong Kong . “There is a risk that the world will be divided into vaccine silos based on vaccine nationalism rather than medical necessity.” Mutual Recognition Many countries closed their borders during the pandemic, some allowing access only to citizens, and even then with weeks of quarantines after arrival. While vaccines are seen as the way to overcome those barriers to entry, there remains great uncertainty about how, and whether, countries will differentiate the at least 11 shots available worldwide. Governments from China to Europe are discussing vaccine passports – easily accessible and verifiable certifications stating that a person has been vaccinated – but it’s unclear whether countries will pursue universal recognition of all shots, or be selective about what they want to recognize, particularly with the rise of virus variants and questions about whether the current crop of vaccines is equally effective China relaxed visa application requirements for foreigners vaccinated with Chinese shots in March, including the option to skip Covid tests or complete travel declaration forms. The homegrown vaccines are only available in some countries, such as Brazil, Pakistan and Serbia. You can’t get Sinovac or the other Chinese shots in the USBut in a sign that Beijing is aware of the economic costs of selective vaccines. The Chinese Embassy in Washington said this week that travelers who had taken certain Western shots would still enter the country as they departed from Dallas, Texas. State media has indicated that the Pfizer-BioNTech injection will likely be approved by mid-year. “We think it’s important to have a very high percentage of the community vaccinated and the best way to do that is by offering choice,” said Ker Gibbs, president of the US Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. As an important market and source of business for companies around the world, China’s border restrictions – one of the strictest in the world – “have had a major impact on our ability to do business,” he said. as the world reopens “Just talking to our members, mobility is a high priority for us, both getting our executives in and out of China, but also getting their families to travel back to China,” Gibbs said. “That has been a big problem.” China isn’t the only place restricting access to people with certain vaccinations. Iceland is currently omitting Chinese and Russian vaccines from the list of vaccines it approves. The issue of vaccine recognition is an important one for countries dependent on tourism, as the $ 9 trillion global travel industry has been effectively paralyzed since the start of the pandemic. This issue may affect their decision-making as Chinese tourists were among the largest groups of foreign visitors who traveled before the pandemic hotspots in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand and capitals as far away as Paris. According to the China Tourism Academy, a government think tank and subsidiary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 2019 will spend more than $ 133 billion abroad. While Indonesia, the home of Bali, and Thailand have approved and administer Chinese shots, New Zealand and Australia – where relations with China have deteriorated over the past year due to the virus and trade – are not. how practical it will be for Western countries to recognize Chinese vaccines given the geopolitical environment, ”said Ether Yin, a partner at Trivium China, a Beijing-based consultancy. “But there will be no real resumption of global travel or economy without the inclusion of China, plus dozens of economies using Chinese vaccines.” Katy Niu, a 26-year-old Chinese citizen, is a ski enthusiast and frequent traveler. in Beijing. It is unclear whether she will return to international slopes like the one in Hokkaido in Japan anytime soon. Prior to the pandemic, she traveled internationally at least three times a year, from shopping on the Champs Elysées in Paris to relaxing on a Southeast Asian beach. Niu has not yet received a vaccine and said she felt no urgency since she is currently unable to travel – and doesn’t see it opening in the near future. “If other countries don’t recognize the Chinese vaccine, does that mean vaccination won’t make a difference?” she said. “We are not being offered a Western vaccine anyway – we have no choice.” (Updates with the New York Times report in the fifth paragraph.) For more articles like this, visit us at bloomberg.com. the most reliable source for business news. © 2021 Bloomberg LP

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