(19 May 2021) IATA has applauded the growing number of countries making data and evidence-driven decisions to open their borders to vaccinated travellers.
The latest data collected by IATA, including its Timatic service, shows that more than 20 countries have wholly or partially lifted restrictions for vaccinated travellers.
Germany is among the latest countries to make quarantine alleviations for vaccinated travellers. Vaccinated travellers and those with a negative COVID19 test result are no longer subject to quarantine measures, except from certain high-risk countries.
The German government’s decision followed a review of scientific advice from the world-renowned Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which concluded that vaccinated travellers are no longer significant in the spread of the disease and do not pose a major risk to the German population. Specifically, it stated that vaccination reduces risk of COVID19 transmission to levels below the risk from a false negative rapid antigen test.
The implementation of this policy aligns Germany with recommendations from both the European Commission and the European Parliament, based on similar scientific advice from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC).
In its interim guidance on the benefits of full vaccination, the ECDC said that “based on the limited evidence available, the likelihood of an infected vaccinated person transmitting the disease is currently assessed to be very low to low.”
Similar conclusions are being reached on the other side of the Atlantic. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) has noted that “with a 90% effective vaccine, pre-travel testing, post-travel testing, and 7-day self-quarantine provide minimal additional benefit”.
“A safe opening of borders to international travel is the goal. And scientific evidence and data such as that presented by RKI, ECDC and USC CDC should be the basis for the decision-making needed to achieve that,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. “There is increasing scientific evidence that vaccination is not only protecting people but also dramatically reducing the risk of COVID19 transmission. This is bringing us closer to a world where vaccination and testing enables the freedom to travel without quarantine. Germany and at least 20 other countries have already taken an important step forward in re-opening their borders to vaccinated travellers. These are the best practice examples for others to quickly follow.”
According to the US CDC, alleviations from COVID19 restrictions are a powerful motivator for vaccination, particularly in communities where vaccine hesitancy is prevalent. This is an additional and important benefit of restriction-free travel for those vaccinated.
IATA polling indicates that 81% of international travellers are willing to get vaccinated in order to be able to travel. Moreover, 74% of people in the same poll agreed that those vaccinated should be able to travel by air without restrictions.
Digital Solutions for Vaccination/Test Certificates
The decisions of increasing numbers of countries to accept vaccinated travellers without quarantine measures adds pressure for a digital solution to manage vaccine certificates and COVID19 test results.
Paper-based processes could lead to extremely long processing times at check-in and border control. They also open the door to fraud.
Digital vaccine/test certificates, coupled with passenger apps such as the IATA Travel Pass, will be needed to manage travel health credentials efficiently and securely in the restart.
Recent IATA polling shows strong support for a digital solution.
– 89% supported globally standardized COVID19 test or vaccination certifications; and – 84% want an app to manage their travel health credentials.
“A gap is opening up between countries responding to scientific evidence, and those exhibiting a lack of preparation or excessive caution in reopening borders. Countries that seize the opportunity offered by the increasing numbers of vaccinated travellers can protect their populations and reap an economic reward,” said Walsh.
Editor’s note: As the above video interview was conducted over the internet, I would like to apologise that the audio and visual quality are not up to the same HD/UHD quality that it normally would be. Hopefully it won’t be too long until we are once again conducting exclusive video interviews in person, but for now we have to make do with what we have. Thank you.