Are vaccine passports the reason for the stop?

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According to reports, the U.S. is considering banning unvaccinated passengers from trains and planes. The use of health passports / vaccines to travel to the US received two sources of support this week. One was in the form of a new bill addressed to the House of Representatives (it required all air and train travelers in the U.S. to show proof of their Covid-19 health) and the other was from the Dr. Fauci, declaring his support for the ban. unvaccinated Americans to fly.

In fact, it has been reported that the White House is only considering reopening travel to EU and UK travelers if people can show vaccination evidence.

However, there is a serious question mark about the political possibility of introducing a travel policy that remains so polarized across the country, and this could be an important factor in why the reopening of transatlantic travel has been stagnant and why the travel ban in the United States remains in effect. .

This week’s key pressure to show evidence comes from three sources:

With nearly 80 million Americans vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases gave his support for all unvaccinated Americans to be banned from taking any flights, national or international. As reported by The Independent, Fauci said, “So I support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people, you should get vaccinated.” Democratic Rep. Don Beyer presented a bill to the House of Representatives Thursday called The Safe Travel Act, requesting that all passengers on airplanes or trains show a vaccination test or a negative Covid-19 test result taken during the last 72 hours before boarding. Beyer said “requiring airport and Amtrak passengers and employees to provide a Covid vaccine test or a negative test is just common sense.” A day later, the The White House said it was open to all ideas, with Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients saying, “I think we have a very solid track record that shows we are pulling the levers available to purchase vaccines and we are not taking any action from the table.” As Business Insider reported, this could mean the White House is considering introducing evidence or a vaccination requirement for air travel and long-distance trains, following new policies that encourage vaccination of federal workers. At the same time, President Biden continued to be encouraged to get vaccinated: “We have had patience, but our patience is running out,” President Biden said. “And your refusal has cost us all. So please do the right thing. ”

In addition, new real-world research has shown that in-flight testing helps significantly limit the Covid-19 virus; recently released results showed this week that exposure to Covid-19 on flights where all passengers have tested negative was less than 0.1. %. The study is underway since December 2020 on transatlantic flights with Delta Air Lines where all passengers boarded after a negative PCR test result in 72 hours.

The airline’s health director, Dr Henry Ting, told real-world data to The Telegraph that “when you combine the extremely low infection rate aboard a Covid-19-tested flight with the layers onboard protection, which include mandatory masking and hospital … degree air filtration, the risk of transmission is less than one in a million between the US and the UK, for example. Ting added that “these figures will improve even more as vaccination rates increase and new cases worldwide decrease.”

The use of so-called vaccine passports is highly controversial in the US, and in the UK, it seems the idea is promoted every two weeks before it is suspended. Where it has been implemented, there have been political protests against its use (as in France), but along with an increase in vaccination rates; in the EU, they are called Covid digital certificates to avoid being politically labeled as a vaccine. passports. And to be clear, people don’t need to be vaccinated to use them in most places, but they do need to regularly show evidence of the negative results of Covid-19 tests.

And it is possibly for this reason that the Biden Administration is waiting for its time to repeal the ban on traveling to the United States to EU and UK travelers, because in order to open a travel backup, it wants to do it with some kind of rules about vaccination, needs. existing systems to check health status, but does not want to take a false step in being seen in favor of health passports.

Edward Alden, a foreign policy columnist, visiting professor at Western Washington University, and a senior member of the Council on Foreign Relations (a U.S. nonprofit think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs) described the current ban on traveling to the United States of “thoughtless.” ”And“ unscientific ”for how it allows travelers from countries with poorer vaccination rates than those countries that have vaccinated most of their adult population.

Alden believes the White House “fears the administration will pay a political price if it is seen to favor so-called vaccine passports, a Republican bugaboo.” For this reason, he writes, the U.S. has made no foray into establishing a system for foreign travelers arriving, that the status quo is favored by both Republicans and Democrats today, and that the ban on travel to the United States it could be in effect until the 2022 U.S. midterm elections.

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