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South Korea exempts recipients of Chinese vaccines from quarantine

South Korea is opening its doors to recipients of Chinese vaccines and exempting the travelers from mandatory quarantine. File Photo by Alex Plavevski/EPA-EFE
South Korea is opening its doors to recipients of Chinese vaccines and exempting the travelers from mandatory quarantine. File Photo by Alex Plavevski/EPA-EFE

June 17 (UPI) -- South Korea is exempting from mandatory quarantine travelers who have received China's Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccines, becoming possibly the only country to completely remove restrictions against recipients of Chinese vaccines.

South Korea disclosed the decision Wednesday and drew praise from Chinese state media, the JoongAng Ilbo reported.

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But in China, where the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines are manufactured, a three-week quarantine still is required of incoming travelers who have received Chinese vaccines, according to South Korean network YTN Thursday.

South Korea may have not singled out Chinese vaccines for approval. Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines are included on a World Health Organization list of vaccines approved for emergency use. Seoul had approved the list and is using it as a guideline, according to YTN.

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Not many countries in the developed world have approved the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines. Only two in the European Union, Greece and Cyprus, have endorsed Chinese vaccines, according to Deutsche Welle.

South Korea could be keeping in place other travel restrictions.

Quarantines for vaccinated travelers have been lifted, but only if the travelers' purpose of visit is uniting with family, urgent business, academic or public interest, or humanitarian affairs, according to South Korean press reports.

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Chinese state tabloid Global Times welcomed the South Korean decision.

Chinese media claimed South Korea was the first country to exempt recipients of Chinese vaccines from mandatory quarantine.

Thailand, which has close business ties with China, also has relaxed restrictions, but a one-week quarantine period still is mandatory for Chinese vaccine recipients, according to YTN.

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China has promoted its vaccines as safe, but late-stage trial results shows they are not as effective as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

A Hong Kong review of trial data for the Sinopharm vaccine showed an efficacy rate of about 62%, Quartz reported.

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