Aircraft. IATA: accepting vaccinated passengers global best practice to reopen borders
Recent polling shows strong support for a digital solution
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 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 travelers.
IATA supports unrestricted access to travel for vaccinated travelers. In cases where vaccination is not possible, access to quarantine-free travel should be provided through COVID-19 testing strategies based on widely available, free-of-charge tests.
Germany is among the latest countries to make quarantine alleviations for vaccinated travellers. Vaccinated travelers are no longer subject to quarantine measures (except from certain high-risk countries). Germany has also removed quarantine requirements for travelers with a negative COVID-19 test result (except from certain high-risk countries).
The German government decision followed a review of scientific advice from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which concluded that vaccinated travelers 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 COVID-19 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".
According to the US CDC, alleviations from COVID-19 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 travelers 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.
The decisions of increasing numbers of countries to accept vaccinated travelers without quarantine measures adds pressure for a digital solution to manage vaccine certificates and COVID-19 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 COVID-19 test or vaccination certifications;
84% want an app to manage their travel health credentials.
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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency