Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says you’ll need proof of vaccination against Covid-19 to be able to fly his airline internationally, whether arriving or departing Australia.
Latest: Qantas (the national airline of Australia) becomes one of the first airlines in the world to state that only passengers who have had the #COVID19 vaccine will be permitted to fly on its international flights — significant 👇🏽🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/LTWDPrlxeB
— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) November 23, 2020
I’ve written that some countries are likely to require proof of vaccination for entry, although the speed at which vaccinations roll out to the world is likely to lag far behind the pace of the United States and Europe. That’s both an economic reality and an infrastructure reality. Much of the world will be able to distribute the AstraZeneca vaccine which simply requires refrigeration, but not the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which much be stored at below freezing temperatures.
Countries without access to significant vaccine doses are more likely to require either proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry.
Qantas has been among the most aggressive airlines shutting down air travel during the pandemic. Over the summer they said they don’t expect to resume long haul operations until July 2021 although the actual timeline may be heavily contingent on restrictions for entering (and leaving) Australia, and specific estimates of service resumption predated public announcements of vaccine progress.
- Pfizer announcing 95% effectiveness in trials
- Moderna accountings 94.5% effectiveness in trials
- AstraZeneca announcing up to 90% effectiveness, depending on the dosing regimen (I’ve written that I worry this vaccine won’t work a second time, that immunity will develop to the adenovirus used, but that same idea could also explain why using a full dose for the first shot led to the lower levels of reported efficacy)
Having multiple vaccine manufacturers, alongside Chinese vaccines, will speed up the world’s return to normal – although Joyce says not just any vaccine will do, there will have to be proof of one deemed sufficiently protective. (Given the contract Australia has with AstraZeneca I’d expect this vaccine to be on the list.)
While the head of the U.S. federal government’s vaccine efforts says 70% of the country could be vaccinated by May and return to normal, in fact some modicum of normalcy could return much earlier from a combination of people having gotten the virus and retaining some level of immunity plus vaccinations. That’s why I’ve been predicting a return to normal in summer 2021 for quite some time, at least for those in the ‘global north’.
Qantas’ requirements may not be a bellwether for the world, but they do point to an expectation that travelers will need to be vaccinated in order to have access to the world. And this requirement is likely to last, when put in place by governments, for longer than is necessary.