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"Immunity/Green" Covid passports for travel

joe

500+ Posts
With the ongoing global deployment of vaccines, this issue has moved in the news from the back-burner to a low boil.... ;)
The idea is to give all people who have received the vaccine and/or have been tested positive for covid antibodies, a certificate allowing them to travel, and to release them from certain restrictions that will continue to be imposed on those who do not fulfill the above conditions.
The positives and negatives of this idea are the ingredients of what might be the next big controversy weighing in on the dynamics of dealing with the virus.

Here are some reads addressing this :





Personally I am still willing to forgo international travel and a passport like this, until I am persuaded of the absolute necessity of getting the vaccine.
 
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Alpinista

100+ Posts
Count me as all in for the idea -- I want to travel; I want to travel safely; I am fine traveling without the company of those who are uncomfortable with either the vaccine or the documentation of having received. I needed proof of yellow fever immunization to get into Tanzania -- see very little difference in proof of COVID immunization.
 

cindyldoe

New Member
Count me as all in for the idea -- I want to travel; I want to travel safely; I am fine traveling without the company of those who are uncomfortable with either the vaccine or the documentation of having received. I needed proof of yellow fever immunization to get into Tanzania -- see very little difference in proof of COVID immunization.
Oh, me too. I am lucky that I live in an area where I can be out and about in nature, Eastern North Carolina. I do miss international travel, but at this point, I'd really like to visit my son in California and daughter in Boston.
 

Ian Sutton

500+ Posts
Some caution should be applied, as
- the clinical trial data doesn't show 100% effectiveness (varying between 55-95% across the vaccines)
- The vaccine effect is expected to wear off (but all seem to give a few months without dropoff)
- Likewise reinfection occurs (currently at a low rate), with the expectation that reinfection risk will rise over time

This sounds awfully negative, but vaccination is indeed a brilliant development.

Governments will certainly want to get international travel going again (and the UK government have shown a clear reluctance to shut that down previously). Therefore, I do expect them to be keen on such a covid passport.

The hard thing to predict, is where this ends up:
  1. Do we get even better vaccines that give near 100% coverage and that can be added to with an annual booster shot?
  2. Do we need to get the infection rate down in each country, before re-opening travel links? e.g. the risk of someone unvaccinated, but with a 0.001% exposure to the virus, will be less than someone with a 1% exposure to the virus who has been vaccinated
  3. Will vaccinations + recoveries eventually drive the numbers down to the point track and trace can be as effective as in NZ and Australia? We're clearly a long way away from that in the UK
  4. Will treatments continue to improve? One would expect so, but >1000 a day dying from it in the UK suggests treatments need to improve dramatically to allow us to rely on treatment alone.
  5. Will economies implode under continued restrictions. In terms of travel, I can see it becoming a lot more expensive to fly / travel in general.
  6. Will further mutations change the landscape? (for better or worse). That feels certain.
  7. Will our behaviour change once vaccinated? I'm certain it will, with many of those vaccinated treating it like full immunity.
What is the end game?
I suspect countries will still need to drive the infection rates down, with vaccinations giving great assistance to this process, but not the magic bullet. Those that are already on top of it will be able to better contain outbreaks and with wide vaccination, those outbreaks will be less widespread. Those that are not on top of cases will have to manage numbers down over many months and may find the borders remain closed to those countries who are getting numbers down nearer 0.001% rather than 0.1-1%

What does this mean for travel?
I think the UK government will be keen to get this going again, and I daresay the same in most of Europe and the US. Those countries with low numbers of cases may want to wait until their vaccination programs are near complete, before allowing travel from the hotspots. I hope/expect a combination of vaccine certificate + current case count % in that country will be used to determine if travel is allowed or quarantine is needed. For the immediate future, I also expect testing to be widely used at departure points. I wonder whether mandatory tracking for arrivals (via phone or tag) might be introduced in countries that would normally be against such monitoring.

Will this change travel for good?
I suspect not, but together with climate change, this ought to give us pause for thought about the problems of frequent international travel and also of shipping goods across the world.

Me?
I'm expecting not to travel to Italy, France or NZ this year (our likely next destinations). I'd love to be surprised and get an autumn trip in, but even if vaccinated, I wouldn't feel comfortable travelling unless the overall risk to myself or others were down at a much more sensible level.

You?
I suspect it will end up with each of us having to make our own decision, potentially as early as March/April. No judgements either way for those wishing to travel early or wait.

Regards
Ian
 
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Alpinista

100+ Posts
Ian, thank you for your thoughtful and thorough post. Just some random thoughts. My wife and I took a trip to Bermuda in November where we found attention to sanitizing, masking, and distancing FAR superior to what we have around us in our part of the US. We were also very comfortable on our reduced occupancy and spaced seating flights, but not so much in the terminals while in transit.

We have had two cruises canceled during the pandemic (one on Nile; other Alaska). We rebooked both, but both had major price increases. On the other hand, our regular air travel is dirt cheap -- normally in the $6,000 range for a business seat; now can get flights for $2,500 - $3,000).

My biggest fear is that people will stop wearing masks while falsely claiming they have been vaccinated -- thus one of my reasons for having a vaccination passport. I would like to see COVID testing continue to be a further requirement, but could accept the passport only.

We have 2021 trips booked for Italy (May/July) and September, plus Egypt in October. Right now, thinking 50/50 for getting the first trip done; much more confident of the latter. If we are vaccinated (I'm scheduled next week; my wife's age group is next, but not yet open for scheduling), we have a tentative trip to Belize in the works for late February -- we'll see.
 

joe

500+ Posts
Good news for the vaccinated, and for everyone actually : very high levels of antibodies are being seen here in serological tests after getting the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. There is good reason to believe that the vaccinated will unlikely be carriers or infectious. The vaccine is, according to these preliminary findings, very successful.

 

NoSpin

100+ Posts
I just received an email from the Department of State yesterday. Here is the relevant part -

Location: Worldwide: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director has signed an order requiring all airline passengers traveling to the United States, including U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test or recovery from COVID-19.

Event: Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide either a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel or provide a positive test result and documentation from a licensed health care provider or public health official of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel. Passengers must also attest, under penalty of law, to having received a negative qualifying test result or to recovery from COVID-19 and medical clearance to travel.

See the CDC Proof of Negative Test Result page to view the order, complete the attestation, and to see FAQ's.

Airlines must deny boarding to passengers who do not meet these requirements.

U.S. citizens in countries where adequate COVID-19 testing is not available or may not be able to satisfy the requirements, should depart immediately or prepare to be unable to return to the United States until such time as they can meet the requirements.
 

NoSpin

100+ Posts
On the other hand, our regular air travel is dirt cheap -- normally in the $6,000 range for a business seat; now can get flights for $2,500 - $3,000).
When I read that I thought I would check the airfare for a trip we have planned in July to Italy and then Switzerland. When we booked the land portion in early October the airfare for Delta One was $9182 for the two of us. I just checked now and the same flights are $10,300!

There were plenty of seats available so I see no reason to book now, especially since I'm not even sure we can get into Italy by July 30th. Although I'm wondering if restrictions are lifted if flights won't go up even higher. The airlines have a lot of profits to make up for. ;)
 

Alpinista

100+ Posts
When we booked the land portion in early October the airfare for Delta One was $9182 for the two of us. I just checked now and the same flights are $10,300!
Interesting!! We usually fly United direct from Dulles to FCO and saw the prices fluctuate thousands of dollars up and down over the past few years. Two years ago, the price for a direct flight in May was $6,000, but in October was almost $10,000 -- but we were able to fly in with a connection in Frankfurt for $6,000. A year later (the trip that was canceled last May), we could get a direct flight to FCO for $2,500 that popped up in the preceding November before the prices went back up to the $6,000 range. I booked the low price for May, 2021, but we'll see what happens.
 

joe

500+ Posts
The "subtle" pressures being proposed to force more people to get vaccinated are starting to gain momentum. There is a controversy about the legality of such measures, but it's clear that gov'ts around the world are looking to offer benefits to the vaccinated, and make life harder for those that aren't.

 

Ian Sutton

500+ Posts
The "subtle" pressures being proposed to force more people to get vaccinated are starting to gain momentum. There is a controversy about the legality of such measures, but it's clear that gov'ts around the world are looking to offer benefits to the vaccinated, and make life harder for those that aren't.


What a difficult quandary. Whilst I need no encouragement to have the jabs, despite hating injections, I'm glad that the communications are clear and being made from within communities who may be reluctant, not just from politicians. There is a solid wall of voices saying get the jab.

Should such restrictions be placed on those who choose not to have the jab (for whatever reason)? Personally I think that is *valid, where the person has made an entirely personal decision, but with special dispensation for those whose medical conditions / allergic reactions prevent them having the jab, plus consideration given to any religious followers whose religion would prevent such injections (even if I think any such religion would be stupid to do so). The ex RAF pilot whose efforts raised so much money for the NHS, died with Covid recently, and what wasn't known, was his medical condition meant he couldn't be vaccinated. Few would deny such people the right to travel, eat out, etc

How far would such a rule go. For me the obvious one is international travel. It's the sort of thing an arrival destination can insist on. I'm much less comfortable about such restrictions in food shops, and other 'essential' businesses. This might remove access to them for some people and that's not something I could support. Pubs and restaurants? Yes, they're not essential and that feels a fairer 'stick' to apply.

* However not yet. The rollout is prioritising older people and I think it would be grossly unfair on young people to be punished for having been deprioritised down the list. Such a policy could only realistically be considered, once everyone has been given the opportunity.
 

joe

500+ Posts
What a difficult quandary.
Agree.
I have decided to forego the vaccine and its benefits in the meantime - I think that with the huge amount of resources being poured into this pandemic, it makes sense for me, personally, to wait until more data is in, especially regarding transmission of the virus by the vaccinated, better broad-range vaccines, effective medicine for treating the disease, duration of immunity conferred, etc. I am quite willing to accept many of the restrictions being proposed, as long as they are implemented in a fair and sane way. As shopping malls, restaurants, int'l travel, etc., are not part of my routine, I will not feel very impacted by these restrictions IAC.

Another recent article summing up the issue :

 

Georgia & Zig

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
With the ongoing global deployment of vaccines, this issue has moved in the news from the back-burner to a low boil.... ;)
The idea is to give all people who have received the vaccine and/or have been tested positive for covid antibodies, a certificate allowing them to travel, and to release them from certain restrictions that will continue to be imposed on those who do not fulfill the above conditions.
The positives and negatives of this idea are the ingredients of what might be the next big controversy weighing in on the dynamics of dealing with the virus.

Here are some reads addressing this :





Personally I am still willing to forgo international travel and a passport like this, until I am persuaded of the absolute necessity of getting the vaccine.
My husband and I have gotten our Covid vaccines already without any adverse effects. We plan to start traveling soon!
 

joe

500+ Posts
Domestic "Green Pass" officially launched in Israel. Includes an app.
About a third of the population here has received two doses already.
Vaccine hesitancy still running fairly high, with only about 40% of parents of children in the ages 6-15 saying they will certainly get their children vaccinated.

Israel has also signed travel agreements with Greece, implementing mutual recognition of their "Green Passports". Pending additional agreements, all other int'l vaccinated travelers will still have to test negative to be allowed to enter without quarantine, as there is still no conclusive data about if the vaccinated can be carriers.
 

cindyldoe

New Member
Received my second Pfizer vaccine today. So grateful and hopeful.
In a few weeks, may venture on a US road trip, not venturing too far just yet. I'll still be careful and still wear a mask. Did I mention that I have a son in the US Navy, and as of now, the vaccine is optional for them? Odd to me.
 

joe

500+ Posts
A new speedy test for COVID has been given a green light by the EU for the start of practical use. A mouthwash and twenty seconds make this more cost-efficient than present tests, and has the potential to greatly ease testing at airports, thus removing another obstacle to re-opening int'l travel.

 

Alpinista

100+ Posts
Good news on all fronts. Also learned that my Belize trip in May will be made simpler by that country's acceptance of my vaccination record in lieu of a preflight COVID test.
 

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