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Blog 24 March, 2021 Back

Will vaccination passports enable international travel?

Becky Malcolm

Despite overwhelming support for a COVID-19 Travel Pass, international travel still faces major challenges as there are concerns and unknowns regarding user privacy protection, interoperability, ethics, data security, long-term vaccine efficacy and what will happen with variants.

The hope is that a vaccine passport will allow people who have received their jabs to travel freely without the need for quarantine.

To meet that need, a number of stakeholders in recent months have rolled out ‘Digital Health Passports’ designed to certify that a traveller meets the relevant entry criteria.

These passports for now could play a key role in allowing travel to recommence, but the challenges are significant. Some airlines and holiday companies are trialling their own health passports to get travel moving again. Stakeholders across the corporate travel ecosystem can see the potential of vaccination passports to kick start the industry's return and are using technology in a variety of ways to address them.

Whether it’s a ‘Vaccination Passport’; ‘COVID-19 Travel Pass’; ‘Digital Green Certificate’ or ‘Digital Health Passport’ the roll out has to be global, with universal standards agreed by governments. This is the only way to maximise efficiency and deliver an optimum travel experience.

In a recent survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), of 5000 respondents in 11 markets across the globe, covering people who had travelled in the last 11 months during the pandemic, it was revealed that while 80% of respondents said they were encouraged by the prospect of the IATA Travel Pass App and would use it, almost the same number said they would only do so if they had full control over their data.

The survey found that 84% believe that COVID-19 will not disappear and the risks need to be managed while living and travelling normally. Almost 70% said their quality of life has suffered from the flying restrictions and half said restrictions have gone too far.

A massive 40% of respondents to the survey reported “mental stress and missing an important human moment as a result of travel restrictions” and over a third have said that “restrictions prevent them from doing business normally.”

Looking to the future, 57% expect to be travelling within two months of the pandemic being contained and 72% want to travel to see family and friends as soon as possible.

81% of respondents said they will be more likely to travel once they are vaccinated, but 84% said they will not travel if there is a chance of quarantine at the destination.

Travel will become safer for those who have been vaccinated and have built up COVID-19 antibodies. “As a vaccinated traveller, you are almost 100% protected from severe disease if exposed to SARS-CoV-2,” says Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor and professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco.

Early studies show that vaccines are preventing viral transmission too, meaning vaccinated people are unlikely to spread COVID-19. Clinical trials are ongoing to confirm this and results are expected later in the year.

When travel rules start lifting, another thing to consider is travel risk management and insurance.

Refusing a vaccine could affect your emergency medical cover. Travel insurance policies sometimes contain exclusions relating to vaccinations. That means if you visit a country without getting the NHS-recommended inoculations, you may not be covered if you end up contracting the illness.

This could be something we could see added to policies relating to the COVID-19 vaccine, as many travel insurers include cover for catching COVID-19 while on holiday.

It can be a complicated process to successfully implement a travel risk management programme. But if your people journey to the ends of the earth for the benefit of your business then the travel risk solutions you put in place should go to the same lengths to support them.

At Anvil, we create the most value by partnering with you to develop a best-fit programme built on our Travel Risk Success Framework, whilst integrating with your own processes and resources.

Learn more here or contact us here.