A vaccine would be a game changer for an international trip. But that’s not all

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(CNN) – The world is eagerly awaiting a govt vaccine, which is said to be our best hope of returning to “normalcy” from the very beginning of the epidemics. A big part of this is the resumption of international travel.

Of course, an effective vaccine brings this opportunity very close. But a vaccine alone does not guarantee a safe arrival on an international trip. There are many things that countries need to consider.

International travel in the age of the Govt vaccine

When people are vaccinated before boarding a plane, this reduces the risk of transmitting the Covit-19 associated with international travel. However, the data we have at the moment does not say everything we need to know.

Take the Pfizer / Bioentech vaccine for example. They reported that their MRNA vaccine was 95% effective in preventing symptomatic Covit-19, which was tested on more than half of the 43,000 people who participated in their 3rd phase trial (the other half received placebo).

The vaccine appears to be safe for some participants only with mild side effects. Furthermore, the study found that people 65 years of age and older and those with health conditions were at higher risk for more severe disease.

However, the study did not officially report the effectiveness of the vaccine against infection, as opposed to showing symptoms. While it is encouraging to know a vaccine is preventing people from getting sick, this is important because if people are still infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Govt-19), they can spread it further.

Usur Hin, co-founder and chief executive of Bioentech, believes the vaccine could reduce the spread by 50%. This is a key feature of the vaccine to safely resume international travel.

At this stage, we do not know how long the immunity of those vaccinated with the Pfizer / Bioentech vaccine will last. But some of these data should be available by 2021, as testing will continue for many more months.

Over time, vaccine tests will reveal additional data.

Over time, vaccine tests will reveal additional data.

University of Maryland Medical School / AP

Not everyone is vaccinated immediately, so we need more isolation

It takes months – or, more realistically, years – to vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated. It is not possible to expect every person traveling internationally to be vaccinated.

There are many countries that have never had social expansion. As of November, this includes many Pacific island nations such as Tonga, Kiribati, Micronesia, Palau, Samoa and Tuvalu.

There are countries under the control of Govt-19, if any, social exchange. Examples are Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Singapore.

People coming to Australia from these countries pose a very low risk and do not need to be isolated whether they are vaccinated or not. As for other countries, it depends on their epidemic at that time.

Some companies have already developed Govt risk assessments for different countries or jurisdictions. For example, the European Center for Prevention and Control of Disease Control (ECTC) rates covit in every European country as “stable,” “anxious” or “seriously concerned.”

These risk assessments are based on factors including each country’s 14-day Govt case notification rate, rate of positive trials and mortality rate.

Clearly, people in high-risk areas or countries will have to isolate their arrival if they are not vaccinated. Australia will develop a similar assessment system for the ECTC to streamline these results.


Many countries now require a negative Govt test certificate before entering. For example, a trip to Spain requires more than 72 hours of negative PCR testing.

Similarly, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which sets standards for aircraft, has called for a pre-departure Covit-19 test.

It also makes sense to get a quick antigen test at airport arrivals or border crossings. While not as accurate as the PCR tests, these tests provide a second check that a passenger did not reach the Covit-19 on their way to their destination.

Even if vaccinated, testing is still important because the vaccine does not guarantee that a traveler will not be infected, or infected.

A passenger wears a safety mask while waiting for a flight on April 02, 2020 at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California.

Covit-19 has required many changes in the way we travel.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Certificates and Passport

Once the Covit-19 vaccines are accessed, visitors to countries and airlines are required to prepare a vaccination certificate.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has suggested that all Qantas international travelers must have a Govt vaccination certificate from next year.

Many groups around the world are working on immunization passports and technologies to detect the virus status of travelers.

For example, the IADA is developing a digital health pass that will carry out testing and vaccination status.

Once vaccinated, international travel worldwide will be allowed in the second half of next year.

It would be great to be able to travel internationally again, but wherever we go – even with a vaccine – it takes some time to travel as we did before the epidemic.

Adrian Esterman is Professor of Biology and Epidemiology at the University of South Australia.

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