Vaccine passports can grant those who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines a return to a certain level of normality in carrying out social activities. Across Europe, there are vaccine passports in the form of digital health passes already used to allow entry to hotels, theaters, museums and more. For Hong Kong, bars and restaurants have allowed for social gatherings, albeit with some limitations.
From Malaysia SOP relaxation it basically provides an insight into what a vaccine passport for social activities might look like. For those in low-risk states, fully vaccinated people can enjoy dinners at restaurants and attend prayers at houses of worship.
Somehow, it could be seen as a pilot test of what would allow the deployment of a vaccine passport. While this agreement may cushion the impact of a new economic downturn, it poses some challenges for companies once restrictions are relaxed.
Disclaimer: This article deals with a vaccine passport in relation to the revival of the local economy in essential and non-essential sectors. It does not enter into the subject of international travel.
1. Guilty of discrimination or becoming a center of infections?
According to a survey, it seems that people are usually optimistic about the vaccine passport. 69% of Malaysians they were very much in favor of having a vaccine passport to enter shops and offices, while 82% of them want to be present to enter large public premises.
For companies, it could open up revenue streams for the sectors they have contributed no income for one year and point-of-sale closures were seen. Vaccine passports can help stimulate the economy, as they allow people to gather in small groups, as well as relax and socialize in these facilities. However, PCOS have yet to be implemented, such as social distancing and the use of masks (when not eating or drinking).
The question now is whether essential and non-essential companies should implement vaccine passport regulation. Either way, it will be a struggle.
Everyone needs essential services and, if these providers limit entry to those who are fully vaccinated, it would be discriminatory against those who cannot be vaccinated for legitimate health reasons.
Non-essential companies are in a slightly different position. They don’t provide basic necessities, but they do offer enrichment activities that many would love to do after being so stuck at home.
It may be easier for these companies to implement strict vaccination passport regulation, as they will not eliminate needs that do not have vaccines, although it may mean closing down potential guests and reducing overall revenue.
But the danger of not implementing vaccine passport regulation for both essential and non-essential companies points to the same risk: becoming a potential center for infections.
Ideally, essential and non-essential companies would need vaccine passports to reduce the overall risk of infection in their facilities. However, another problem arises: who will strictly regulate this implementation to ensure that SOPs are followed?
2. Self-regulation or government intervention?
Based on the aforementioned current SOPs, it is recommended that restaurants limit their capacity for diners to 50%, provide good ventilation or simply move the seats outdoors. These are some of the government’s loose proposals so far, with no fines or strict guidelines.
It is unknown whether or not the government will let the business owners themselves implement a vaccine passport, but it is unknown although there are pros and cons.
If the government decides to make this regulation mandatory for all companies, there will be a guaranteed loss in face-to-face sales, as those who are not fully (or not at all) vaccinated will be alienated. This is likely to affect non-essential businesses such as leisure and entertainment centers as they struggle to transit their services online.
Fully vaccinated clients will reap more benefits from this move, as it increases their confidence in the safety of a premise.
On the other hand, leaving the decision to the companies themselves will place an immense trust in them to ensure that their SOPs are sufficiently respected. If a vaccine passport program is not consistently implemented in all companies in the country, this means that the overall risk of serious infections is higher.
Business owners implementing the regulation should be concerned about whether or not their fully vaccinated customers would be a potential carrier of COVID-19 if they had recently been on a premise that they did not need a vaccine passport for entry. .
Finding a balance to give customers a sense of normalcy and ensure their safety is an ongoing challenge that overseas companies are already facing, for example, Hong Kong bars.
3. Risk of entering people completely vaccinated but at high risk
Vaccines against COVID-19 are intended to protect against serious illness and hospitalization. Taking the shot does not give any immunity against the spread or spread of the virus.
Therefore, a vaccine passport still has a limited ability to reduce infections. Even if companies need a vaccine passport to allow entry to customers, there is still the risk that they may leave asymptomatic spreaders completely vaccinated.
This is currently almost impossible to overcome with current contact tracking technology, as it still requires honesty and constant updating of users to function properly.
If companies want to minimize this risk, they will need to develop additional regulations to examine customers for access. However, with some Malaysians resisting or refusing to comply with simple PCOS, this could be a nightmare effort.
We are still a long way from the immunity of the herd with less than 40% of the fully vaccinated Malaysian population, so perhaps these additional regulations could take some examples of the Hotspot Identification for Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) system that the government proposed earlier.
With HIDE, premises are recommended to take intensive preventive measures. It includes checking the risk status of MySejahtera logs and banning entry to people designated as high risk. The projection of COVID-19 workers and improved people control measures are also encouraged.
For now, it’s like that i’m not clear what the results are of the HIDE system are. But in any case, restricting the entry of fully vaccinated people but one that poses a high risk due to close contacts can slow down, if not prevent, the spread of the virus.
4. An unsustainable long-term solution
Because we are in a public health emergency, there are high levels of uncertainty with the continued introduction of new procedures by law enforcement.
Vaccine passport measures should be temporary, as they are intended to help people achieve some sanity and we hope that they will return to normal once public health goals are met. This was stated by Dr. Voo Teck Chuan, professor of biomedical ethics in an interview with RICE Media.
Thus, for Malaysia to execute vaccine passports and help the country recover, a clear roadmap needs to be established so that these measures do not take longer than they should. It might seem like the country’s National Recovery Plan (NRP) that has set targets for when each state will move to the next phase based on COVID-19 cases recorded daily.
If there is no clear plan and it ends up in sight, companies will even struggle to plan for recovery, let alone to really recover once our vaccination goals are met. There are already many companies that are stuck in a limbo about whether they should close or stay open and suffer losses.
Vaccine passports must end as infection rates are reduced or, in the long run, companies will be killed and there is a risk of segregating people.
Is Malaysia ready for vaccine passports?
Malaysia’s daily positive cases hit five digits a day despite intensified vaccination efforts. Our health system is falling apart, and there is a shortage of hospital beds in the Klang, Melaka, Penang, Kedah and Sabah valleys.
“It simply came to our notice then [about the easing of SOPs] is that several states like Johor, Kedah, Penang and Terengganu also appear with more than a rising number and rapidly of infection, “said Dr. Adeeba, an expert on infectious diseases and a member of the World Council’s Scientific Council. of Health (WHO) CodeBlue.
If there is to be a vaccine passport release, it should be first with test groups in lower-risk states. The response to it must be monitored and the results for future plans must be taken into account.
The closest thing to a vaccine passport regulation would be the current relaxation of SOPs announced by the government and it is too early to assess their effectiveness.
One thing is for sure, the government needs to consult with relevant companies or associations in the business sectors to come up with a plan (vaccine passport or not) that will benefit not only customers, but the companies themselves.
It focused heavily on people’s happiness and needs, but without companies offering them services and products in the first place, there will be no discussion of the need for SOP relaxations or a vaccination passport that doesn’t take suppliers ’concerns into account. .
Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post