During its board meeting on Oct. 14, the management of Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB) revealed its quarantine exemption request for travelers fully vaccinated with the Taiwan-made Medigen vaccine.
The government of Guam’s approval could be a significant step to facilitate a travel new normal in the region, as well as better protect our island community during the process of tourism recovery. The piling scientific evidence have suggested that although there were still quite a number of breakthrough infections, fully vaccination is one of the most powerful measures to prevent severe Covid-19 illness and suppress the coronavirus’ person-to-person transmission. That is why it is absolutely the right thing to do to recognize every individual’s effort to get fully vaccinated.
In June, Guam offered quarantine exemption to Korean visitors who completed two doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, which did not obtain the Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
Now, Guam should accept Taiwan’s Medigen jab to further strengthen the encouragement of getting fully vaccinated with our long-time regional partners.
The Medigen Covid-19 vaccine has not only been issued the Emergency Use Authorization by Taiwan FDA, but also been further proven its effectiveness by a clinical study of 3,304 participants.
The scientific paper of that clinical study has been published in The Lancet, a worldwide well-known medical journal, on the day right before GVB revealed its quarantine exemption request for Medigen vaccine. According to Taiwan government’s estimates, among 30 percent of its 23.5 million citizens fully vaccinated by the end of October, there will be around 800,000 Taiwanese who received two doses of Medigen vaccine. While Guam’s vaccination rate is reaching 90 percent of the eligible residents, many of our long-time regional partners are still working hard on their vaccine rollouts as Taiwan is doing.
As of Oct. 14, Japan’s percentage of the population fully vaccinated against Covid-19 was 66.4 percent. Korean’s number was 62.5 percent. Philippines’ program only covered 21.6 percent. Our region really needs more encouragement to further highlight the importance of full vaccination. What Guam can do now is to recognize prospective Taiwanese visitors’ full vaccination records of Medigen vaccine. What Korean and Singapore are achieving together is to allow fully vaccinated people to travel between the two countries without arrival quarantine, and, more importantly, returning quarantine is not needed either.
No country can afford more lockdowns. The reopening has become a worldwide consensus. However, as what happened when the more contagious delta variant hit Guam, it has never been easy to fearlessly live with the virus. People obviously need some more time to adjust to the new normal. During the process, a regional common protocol of seeing fully vaccinated people as the preferred visitors to better protect local residents is what Guam needs to promote with all of our partners. Pingyuan “Edward” Lu is the director of HSVG Mission's Public Health Office.