The covid vaccine will not enable carefree travel

Corona vaccines have been broadly discussed since the outbreak of the corona pandemic. Thanks to intense research and huge funding, vaccines were developed and approved in many countries in record time. Europe wants to vaccinate all citizens, willing to get vaccinated, by the end of 2021 and thus get the corona pandemic under control step by step.

But what does the vaccination mean for our freedom of movement? Will it enable travel without tests and quarantines and thus promote the resurrection of the tourism industry? Will the vaccination certificate become an indispensable travel document for all travellers? And how do you deal with the unvaccinated?

It is currently generally assumed that a Corona vaccination primarily reduces symptoms and the number of severe cases. This means that you can very well be infected and become a virus carrier, but not get sick with Covid-19. However, as a virus carrier, you are still likely to be contagious and pass the virus on to unvaccinated people without noticing, since you have no symptoms. That’s bad news, no, even very bad news for travelling!

The proof of Covid-vaccination alone doesn’t really make me, as a visitor to a country, any less dangerous than before. The vaccination will unfortunately be almost useless in cross-border traffic as long as the destination country uses a “containment strategy”, such as sp. Asia, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

Until a certain immunity rate is reached at the travel destinations, tests and/or quarantines will still be required in order to prevent the introduction of the virus (including new mutations). Corona tests will therefore accompany us in tourism for another 2-3 years – until a certain vaccination rate has been reached at the travel destinations, protecting large parts of the population from the disease. Israel for example, with a record high vaccination rate of already 25% of its population, may soon lift travel bans, probably leading to a boom in incoming tourism.

It will also be interesting to see whether the expensive and time-consuming PCR test, which is currently used everywhere, remains the measure of all things, because with symptom-free infections, combined with less restrictive rules in everyday life, the number of infections is likely to continue to skyrocket and the rate of positivity increase dramatically. Travelling as a group or family could be difficult if someone  is tested positive via PCR shortly before departure (or even in the destination country). Upper limits for viral load or specially developed rapid tests could be a solution and to show whether you are currently contagious or not.

The countless initiatives related to vaccination certificates (IATA, WEF, WHO, Airlines, etc) are therefore the wrong approach, because whether a traveller has vaccination protection is primarily relevant for the traveller himself, protecting the traveller against an outbreak of the disease. However, the vaccination certificate does not provide any information on whether a visitor carries the virus (or a new mutation). Therefore the subject of vaccination cards is less important than the development of international standards with regards to testing and quarantines in travel – especially for travellers who have already tested positive via PCR and the acceptance of various rapid tests. The topic will stay with us for a while (especially in the long-haul area) – so it’s about time to try to standardize the rules!

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