As of December 31, it seems that international travel could be a realistic thing to think about again.
The vaccine promises to travel. People feel more optimistic, ” says Julia Pirrung, founder and president of JetSet World Travel, an agency based in Aspen, Colorado that plans individual trips. “For people who long to come to places like Europe or elsewhere, there is definitely hope for the second half of 2021.”
The CEO of Australian airline Qantas said that all international travellers landing on their flights must provide evidence that they have taken the vaccine as no other airline has announced. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said today that the vaccine may be required for international travel, but it is likely that it will be prescribed by the government and not by the airline. So far, no country has indicated that a vaccine is necessary for entry, but some infectious disease experts point to a yellow fever vaccine that is required or recommended for entry into more than 100 countries, as an example of what could happen to COVID-19.
“Similar to a yellow fever vaccine, we can see countries that allow people to use the vaccine without meeting quarantine or testing requirements,” said Amesh Adaglia, an infectious disease physician and lead researcher at Johns Hopkins Medical Security Center.
The International Air Transport Association, an airline trade organization, is currently working to create a digital vaccine passport that will allow passengers to share their test results and vaccine information with the authorities.
Of course, many questions remain about the vaccine itself, including when it will be received by the population as a whole. While frontline workers and high-risk individuals are already receiving initial doses, it is unlikely that the average person will have access to them before the end of spring or early summer 2021. The Pfizer vaccine currently requires two doses separated by three weeks, and Adalja says that at least a full week must pass after the second dose to get the full benefit. Only then will you have enough immunity to travel relatively safely. But whether the vaccine offers sterilizing immunity-that is, whether others cannot be infected-has yet to be determined. “Pharmaceutical companies are now trying to understand whether the vaccine offers a sterilizing immunity. Can you infect other people? It’s always a risk, but hopefully we’ll have more information about it soon, ” says Adaglia.
Lisa M. Lee, who is deputy vice president for research and professor of public health at the Virginia Institute of Technology and former head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says there are still some important considerations for those who want to travel. – Where are you going? What is the risk in the place where you travel? Until the vaccine is available worldwide, there is still a risk of infection, so we need to make sure that we continue to participate in the strategies to reduce the impact on public health that we’ve been talking about over the past ten months: wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands,” she says.
Lee says that although we know that modern vaccines prevent a strong infection of people with the virus, we do not know if this happens because they are not infected at all or because it reduces symptoms so that there may still be a risk of transmission.
“One of the things we have seen from COVID-19 is that it has exacerbated and made visible the differences and inequalities in our country,” says Lee. “We want to ensure that any policy, such as the demand for rice vaccines, is fair and does not increase inequality.”
While there are still risks that need to be taken into account, travelers are optimistic that they will be able to travel soon. When news of the vaccine first appeared on November 9, the Skyscanner search platform increased the number of economy class return flights by 9% and Kayak by 27% compared to the previous week.
In 2021, the organizers again see an interest in travel. According to the company Alpenglow Expeditions, which is based in Tahoe City, California, and leads mountaineering trips to destinations from the Himalayas to Ecuador, customers are starting to plan.
In 2019, Alpenglow Expeditions undertook 38 international trips; in 2020, it undertook only eight international trips before being closed in March. – We searched month after month: Can we reopen? How can we make it safe?””, says Adrian Ballinger, his owner and mountain guide. -Lately, the phone rings very often, and the demand for travel is very large. We have more orders than usual for the second half of 2021. People say, ” I’ll get the vaccine and then I’ll go.”We are not saying that this is a prerequisite for the trip, but it certainly makes the task easier.”
Ballinger says it remains to be seen whether the typical Everest climbing season can take place in spring 2021. However, one important thing has changed with the trips and will probably continue next year: the cancellation policy. Alpenglow Expeditions used to have a 90-day cancellation policy. With the exception of the Everest trip, you can cancel your booking with the company 14 days before departure and receive a full refund.
“The world of international travel and tour guides has changed,” says Ballinger. – We are now more nimble and flexible. If we want international travel to come back, we know that some things need to change.”