3 Links I Love: Vaccinated Skip Tests, Norwegian Lives, Southeast Asia Airports

Links I Love, Norwegian

This week’s featured link

Vaccinated travelers could be exempt from quarantine, testing by springHawaii News Now
I find it incredible that the new US inbound international testing rules are only exempted for those who have had COVID and can prove it within a certain period of time. This is the point of vaccines. Regulatory bodies need to start catching up, as it appears Hawai’i is starting to do.

File:EC-MFJ - Boeing 717 Volotea (40963909042).jpg
Image of the Week: Volotea has now retired its very last 717, so you won’t be able to see the airplane in Europe any longer. The 717 is now operated only by three airlines: Delta, Hawaiian, and QantasLink (operated by National Jet Systems)

Two for the road

New airports planned and under construction in Southeast Asia – 2021 editionlivinginasia.co
This is a remarkably comprehensive look at airport construction work in Southeast Asia.

Norwegian appreciates support from the Norwegian GovernmentNorwegian Newsroom
I’m not quite dead yet…. Norwegian will live to see another day, again. No 787s, of course, but with government support it should be able to start going back to its roots again.

11 comments on “3 Links I Love: Vaccinated Skip Tests, Norwegian Lives, Southeast Asia Airports

  1. There are two obvious and appropriate reasons why not to exempt the vaccinated, especially now. First, there is no evidence one way or the other that the vaccines prevent transmission of the virus, only that they prevent people from developing symptoms. Since people with symptoms aren’t supposed to travel anyway, vaccines may not do much at all to reduce the risk of an asymptotic traveller spreading COVID-19. Second, with the vaccine not yet widely available, allowing vaccinated people to avoid restrictions would create some perverse and dangerous incentives, encouraging low-risk people to find ways to jumó the queue.

    In due time, when vaccines are widely available and it’s an individual choice to be vaccinated, enough people are vaccinated for herd immunity to develop by significantly reducing the number of symptomatic people, tying privileges like travel or going to work or school to vaccination will absolutely make sense. For now, there are very good reasons why public health experts do not advise authorities to grant any extra privileges to the vaccinated.

    1. Alex – On the first point, I believe the state is waiting for CDC data on transmission before allowing this. That has to be a prerequisite, I agree.

      On the second point, allowing vaccinated to avoid restrictions could have negative unintended consequences. But if all it does is exempt you from a test requirement, then that’s not really going to create much incentive.
      It just makes it easier for those who have the vaccine to avoid being duplicated. But I can’t imagine a black market developing with something of that value.

      1. It’s not so much a black market that I’m concerned about as people being incentivized to misrepresent their risk or qualification for a vaccine to get in before they’re really eligible.

        I see indeed in the article that they’re waiting for the CDC to say the research supports the idea that vaccinated people can’t (or are much less likely to) spread the disease. I’m sure that if and when the CDC reaches that conclusion, regulatory bodies will catch up pretty quickly; glad they’re not jumping the gun.

  2. Is there an effective way to prove vaccination, or for that matter, having had Covid? How do you do that?

    In this day and age there will be people only too willing to lie about this stuff for whatever reason – whether for ideological or idiotic reasons (but I repeat myself). So again, how do you effectively, securely, etc, warrant that someone has had Covid, or has had the vaccine? Or has antibodies? Or anything else? Relying on the goodwill of people seems hopelessly optimistic.

    New Zealand has a waiting list of months for returning Kiwis to go into a 14 day mandatory quarantine in hotels, where you’re basically, as I understand it, locked in for that period. That’s an effective guard against Covid getting loose again within their country. Life in NZ is, consequently, basically normal (other than an absence of foreign tourists – apparently Kiwis are spending a lot of time learning about their own fair country).

    How do you move, over time, from that to something a bit more relaxed if you don’t have an effective way of ensuring that arriving travelers do not represent a danger? The flipside of NZ being so effective at keeping Covid at bay is that they now have far more than most countries to lose if Covid does one day get loose.

    New Zealand has a particularly fierce (and effective) quarantine regime. But to a greater or lesser extent, the same issues will ultimately be relevant for a lot of other international travel.

    1. Enplaned – There are technological solutions here. Whether any governmental body can get its act together is a whole different issue, but it can be done.

      1. Yeah, but the timescale is pretty short for any sort of widescale technological solution that goes across borders. We’re only talking 6-9 months until vaccination is likely to be widespread enough for most of the concerns to go away — with luck.

        That said, I’d be all in favour of requiring vaccination (or truly valid exemption) from COVID but also measles etc for many activities (including travel, school, work) long term; I sure hope (probably hopelessly) that this pandemic has taught people everywhere that vaccines really do matter!

    2. You can require documentation of a positive COVID test followed by documentation of a later negative test (as is soon to be required for a negative test), but I agree in general that trusting people and even documentation is iffy at best, which is another reason that I think public health authorities are absolutely right not to accept any sort of “vaccine passport” at this point, especially given the lack of uniformity of vaccine documentation in different jurisdictions.

      Australia has a very similar quarantine procedure (and there are discussions of a trans-Tasman bubble with exemptions); both countries of course have a dramatic geographic advantage in keeping borders closed, since they have no high-traffic land borders with large numbers of daily commuters. It’s amazing seeing Australian friends having school graduation parties and the like! The flip side is that if a case escapes quarantine, entire cities go into total lockdown.

      1. There already is an international standard for documentation of vaccine: The International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, also known as the Yellow Card or Carte Juane. This is the document commonly required to enter countries that require vaccination against Yellow Fever. The same executive order from President Biden that mandates mask wearing on interstate travel also addresses this document:

        “(e) International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. Consistent with applicable law, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of HHS, and the Secretary of Homeland Security (including through the Administrator of the TSA), in coordination with any relevant international organizations, shall assess the feasibility of linking COVID-19 vaccination to International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) and producing electronic versions of ICVPs.”

        https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/21/executive-order-promoting-covid-19-safety-in-domestic-and-international-travel/

  3. Lovey and I will not be flying to/from any destination where testing is required. In addition to the extra cost, the tests have proven to be very unreliable. The latest with the Australian Open where all the tennis players in 14 day imprisonment is an example. Also, do the flight crews have to show negative tests each time they cross the borders? If not, that’s a big safety risk. I guess We’ll just have to wait till the end of summer until enough are vaccinated and there won’t be a need to test or verify vaccinations.

    1. *Everyone* travelling to Australia has to quarantine. It’s not an imprisonment; it’s a core part of the reason Australia is able to return to normalcy, including hosting tennis tournaments. With Australian citizens stranded abroad because they have to quarantine and there isn’t space in the quarantine hotels, should Australia exempt tennis players? Never mind policy: how do you think that would go over politically? This being a case where the politics and optics are absolutely appropriate.

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