Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says pre-departure Covid tests for travel to the U.S. won’t be in place ‘forever.’ He flags that lifting the rule will require a CDC determination that “relaxing it would not harm the progress that we’ve made against the virus.”
If we’ve seen anything throughout the pandemic it’s that the CDC moves slowly. But there’s little question that testing-for-travel doesn’t affect the overall course of the virus in the U.S.
- It didn’t keep out variants like Delta or Omicron
- We now have far better tools to manage the pandemic (vaccines, treatments)
- Hospitals aren’t overwhelmed
- And there are few other measures in place at all, such that testing for travel cannot be seen as one piece of a larger attempt to control the virus
There’s an argument for slowing down spread when you’re on the cusp on prophylactics and treatments, or when hospital capacity is overwhelmed. Neither is the case today, so while a test prior to travel reduces the likelihood a given individual is infectious at time of flight it doesn’t have a material affect on the broader public health situation. And we don’t require testing prior to domestic travel, or for large gatherings.
The U.K.’s transportation secretary met with several lawmakers and with Secretary Buttigieg and noted that,
- eliminating the requirement has benefited the U.K. economy without meaningfully contributing to Covid-19 cases
- he learned the U.S. is working on lifting the requirement.
My sense is that it’s moving towards endgame. I think they realize that it needs to go..My sense is that by the summer.
Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany and many other countries that have taken pandemic restrictions more seriously than the U.S. have eliminated their predeparture testing requirements. The U.S. rule remains largely for bureaucratic reasons.