More expected than the arrival of a King, the vaccine is finally a reality. There’s a typhoon of optimism to know that countries like the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia have already started the process of immunization against covid-19.
The most immediate priority, of course, is to protect people who are most vulnerable or at risk, such as the elderly and healthcare professionals. However, the question is already hanging in the air: whoever is vaccinated will be able to travel freely around the world immediately?
Vaccine means green light to travel?
Unfortunately, it is not so. Despite all the optimism that the arrival of the vaccine brings to the tourism market, the patience that we exercise so much in 2020 will have to last a little longer, until borders are widely opened around the world. The first factor to be taken into account is that the global vaccination campaign will be a logistical odyssey of unprecedented proportions. This means that it will be several months (perhaps years) before a significant portion of the world population is immunized and we have the long-awaited “herd immunity”.
Will vaccinated people have free passes around the world?
There comes the second factor: the vaccine prevents the vaccine from getting sick if he comes into contact with the coronavirus. However, it remains to be seen whether immunized people can continue to transmit the virus. Until this is clear, it is not safe to drastically increase the circulation of people across the globe, for the good of those who have not yet had the vaccine. According to a report published by the renowned Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, from the United States, “it will be important to understand whether vaccinated individuals are less likely to transmit the virus. This is likely, but not guaranteed. If the vaccine not only protects against the virus, but also reduces transmission, and so on for several years, we can reach a state of herd immunity in which masks and social distance will no longer be necessary ”. The good news, in this sense, is that there is evidence, recently released, that the Oxford vaccine, developed in partnership with the AstraZeneca laboratory, could also prevent transmission. And this immunizer is, precisely, the main bet of the Brazilian government.
Will we have “health passports”?
Since the pandemic began, the creation of a “health passport” as a way to control who can (or cannot) return to travel has been among the hypotheses raised by trend analysts. This is already on the way to becoming a reality. At the end of November, IATA (International Air Transport Association) announced the launch, scheduled for 2021, of the IATA Contactless Travel App. And the CommonPass app is already being tested by major airlines – such as United, JetBlue and Lufthansa – to verify the coronavirus tests required when boarding to certain destinations.
In general, the two applications are used to verify the authenticity of the tests presented by passengers through certificates issued by the laboratories, inform passengers about the health requirements to enter each country/region and streamline security controls at airports with touchless technology. In the future, these tools are likely to serve to check vaccination vouchers – such as a digital version of the international yellow fever vaccine certificate, for example.
Will the vaccine be required to travel?
By 10 votes to 1, the Supreme Court on Thursday 17th authorized restrictive measures for those who do not want to be vaccinated against Covid-19. This means that, although vaccination is not mandatory in Brazil, anyone who is not immunized can be prevented from entering certain places, such as airplanes. Such measures may become a global trend. Australian Qantas was the first airline to announce that it will refuse passengers en route to Australia who has not taken the covid-19 vaccine, followed by the South Korean Korean Airlines.
What can we expect in the short term?
It is inevitable that the arrival of the vaccine will heat up the travel market, especially in countries that have taken the lead. Through the carriage floor, Europeans will be the first to be able to move more freely, at least within the European Union. Just as, in the last year, “travel bubbles” have been established between countries and regions considered safe, it is possible that, at first, countries with a high percentage of vaccinated people start a similar exchange.
As part of the society most affected by the pandemic, the elderly will be the first to receive the vaccine. In Europe and the United States, where seniors are responsible for a significant share of the tourism market, it seems very likely that they will also be the first to resume short and medium distance travel and until there is a historic boom in that market. They deserve it!