The decision of the Chinese government to ease visa restrictions, imposed during the peak of the pandemic Covid-19, is a welcome step that will speed up the return of life back to normalcy. However, its insistence that those who apply for a visa should have inoculated themselves with a Chinese-made vaccine defies logic and scientific principles, and reflects a total ignorance about the objective realities about the pandemic situation in the world.
Scientists in several countries have in the last few months come out with vaccines that can protect people from the deadly virus. Each one is certified by the national regulators concerned following universally accepted scientific norms on safety and efficacy, and hence it is grossly unfair for a country to set vaccination with a product made there as a precondition to enter that country. The humanity is not engaged in a war among the nations of the world but one against a virus. Every nation must realise that.
It is estimated that there are about 23,000 Indians who are waiting to return to China for various purposes including education and business. Given the fact that there is no availability of Chinese-made vaccines in India, they will have to wait for some more time. The Chinese side has explained that vaccine producers in other countries should file applications to competent authorities in China and the latter will make decisions in accordance with laws and regulations. There has been no timeframe or assurance on that either.
There are many countries that have no access to vaccine as its production has been concentrated in a few spots and most of it has been contracted by the rich nations. Vaccination for all must be a universal goal at present, and every nation, including China, should be part of it. China has an added responsibility as the SARS-Cov-2 virus that causes Covid-19 originated there. Unilateral actions by countries do not aid that endeavour.