PARIS / SYDNEY (Reuters) – The head of a global travel organization on Monday opposed making COVID-19 a vaccination for travelers in the fight against the epidemic, despite doubts about reaching herd immunity this year.
During the Reuters Next conference, many health experts said that the large-scale roll out of the coronovirus vaccine would not provide sufficient immunity to the public, preventing the Covey-19 from spreading effectively.
Some policy regulators have proposed that vaccination should be mandatory for air travel as the world intensified the fight to curb the spread of COVID-19, and Australia’s Qantas Airways said that such a requirement was introduced Plan to do.
But Gloria Guevara, the chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said such steps would be tantamount to workplace discrimination.
“We should never require vaccination to get jobs or travel,” Guevara, whose organization represents a sector accounting for 10% of global employment, told a panel from Reuters Next.
“If you require vaccination before travel, it leads us to discrimination.”
He said that was supported by AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, who said that global testing protocols were key to unlocking the journey.
A snap poll in his comments contrasted with most online panel viewers who supported the vaccine requirement.
Opposite views highlighted the difficulties in reaching agreement on how to defeat COVID-19 as the virus died and its economic collapse.
According to Reuters Tally, more than 90 million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus since the first exposure in China in December 2019 and nearly 1.9 million people have died of the disease.
Countries including the United States, Singapore and European states have begun to rollout the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its partner Bioentech by drugmaker AstraZeneca along with the vaccine and the University of Oxford.
Indonesia and India plan to introduce mass vaccinations later this week.
But Dale Fisher, president of the World Health Organization (WHO) outbreak warning and response network, said: “We won’t be back to normal quickly.”
He was alert to the possibilities of countries reaching swarm immunity quickly.
“We know that we need to increase immunity and we need it in most countries, so we’re not going to see it in 2021,” Fisher told Reuters Next. “There may be some countries that can achieve this but still it will not make it ‘normal’ especially in terms of border control.”
Fisher said that based on current knowledge of the vaccine, it was a best-case scenario.
Pandu Ryono, an epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia, said at the conference that some governments were more dependent on incoming vaccines and meant that herd immunity could not be achieved in the near term.
Irma Hidana, Indonesia-based co-founder of the Indo-Coronovirus Data Improvement, LaporCOVID-19, said public confidence in vaccines could have an impact on the roll-out.
Another problem, Fisher said, was uncertainty about the ability to further mutate the virus.
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Editing by Timothy Heritage and Alexander Smith