One Mile at a Time asks “What Does New Vaccine Timeline Mean For Travel?” now that the current expectation is enough doses in the U.S. for every adult by the end of May. What he’s really asking, I think, is once you’ve been vaccinated (and waited two weeks for full protection) and once community spread is significantly reduced (from vaccinations, immunity from prior infection, and seasonality), will you feel comfortable traveling?
- Having enough vaccine for everyone doesn’t mean everyone is vaccinated. Two months from now everyone who wants a vaccine will have had one and we’ll be begging people to get vaccinated.
- But being vaccinated yourself gives you a lot more freedom because of the extreme effectiveness of vaccines not just against symptomatic Covid-19 but against severe Covid and hospitalization. We can basically return to normal life.
- There won’t be a lot of Covid-19 in spreading in the country this summer. But we are likely to see a resurgence come late fall and winter. We’ll need booster doses of vaccines, too.
- In the meantime get what ever vaccine you can because it really isn’t symptoms we’re worried about it’s severe disease. And by the way the first shot of Moderna and Pfizer appears to have similar protectiveness to the first shot of Johnson & Johnson, by all means go get your second shot when it’s available to you (though we should be doing a ‘First Doses First’ regime similar to the U.K. and now British Columbia, Canada) but you don’t need to wait two weeks past the second shot to have dinner with friends.
Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned on CNBC’s SquawkBox this morning that the CDC’s guidance for what you can do once vaccinated is going to be far too conservative.
CDC is going to come out with guidance this week that is going to proscribe what people can do, particularly after they’re vaccinated. I think it’s going to be overly prescriptive and conservative and that’s the wrong message – because if we cntninue to be very prescriptive and not give people a realistic vision for what a better future is going to look like they’re going to start to ignore the public health guidance.
Suggesting that fully vaccinated people can have small gatherings in their homes with other fully vaccinated people only ignores the science that vaccines aren’t just ‘66% effective’ or ‘94.1% effective’ that’s data from clinical trials against symptoms, vaccination has been almost 100% effective against hospitalization and it’s been 100% effective against death and that is what we care about.
We don’t ‘not travel’ because of the risk of getting a cold or flu, we’ve been avoiding travel because of risk of severe disease and because we might overwhelm hospitals, especially ICU capacity. Vaccination so far seems to take that off the table. It also significantly limits spread of the virus.
And it has these properties against Covid-19 variants as well, even if immune response is reduced the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines produce a greater response to even the South African variant than someone who has recovered and gives the body a real head start fighting it off – again to prevent severe disease and hospitalization.
Other countries won’t open up so quickly, just like masking during travel won’t go away any time soon even if U.S. daily case counts dip below 10,000 in late June. There are still going to be limits on travel, and negative tests required to travel to many places. But where you’re allowed to travel, most people who do not have significant confounding factors (old age plus comorbidities) can generally feel comfortable traveling a couple of weeks after they’ve been vaccinated.
We haven’t even begun to tackle how to verify vaccination, by the way. In Singapore they’re using blockchain technology and electronic verification. We have CDC card stock.
We need at-home rapid testing (that you do not need a prescription for and that you don’t send off samples) and we need a reasonable way to verify vaccination. If you want to go to meetings and events, let those venues require vaccination and a negative test, but it has to be easy to demonstrate.