When Will The Pandemic Travel Clown Car Clear Out? New U.S. Entry Rules Make No Sense

New U.S. travel rules go into effect November 8th, and if the President of France were bound by them he’d be ineligible to enter the country – even though he’s fully vaccinated following European guidelines. That’s because U.S. pandemic policy is – still – not guided by science.

Throughout the pandemic the U.S. has allowed unvaccinated Peruvians and Russians to enter the U.S. despite some of the most crushing effects of Covid in those places. And for much of this year vaccinated Europeans who tested negative for the virus were kept out.

With new travel rules requiring all non-residents to be vaccinated, vaccinated Russians won’t be welcomed because the Sputnik vaccine isn’t acceptable while Sinovac and Sinopharm count. Chinese vaccines that are underperforming are alright, without boosters – though the World Health Organization actually says there’s no evidence that the Sinovac vaccine reduces infection or transmission.

Vaccination requirements for entry go into effect November 8, and this replaces outright bans on visitors who have been to a handful of countries in the past 14 days (a list which doesn’t tier to places with the greatest risk of Covid or new variants).

The U.S. is accepting World Health Organization-accepted vaccines, but isn’t following what’s considered ‘full vaccination’ in Europe.

  • One Johnson & Johnson shot is ‘full vaccination’ even though Anthony Fauci concedes that vaccine should have been a two dose regimen from the start

  • Two and only two doses of other vaccines including Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca are accepted – even though a single dose of Moderna appears to have greater efficacy than a single dose of J&J – and indeed greater than two doses of Sinovac

  • And prior infection isn’t considered, even though evidence of recent recovery from prior infection exempts a traveler from the Covid-19 testing requirement to enter the U.S.

While there’s some disagreement over how protection from prior infection compares to protection from vaccination it is not at all controversial that prior infection plus one dose of an mRNA vaccine represents the gold standard of protection, better than for instance two doses of Pfizer.

  • The U.S. will accept someone with prior infection and one dose of J&J (because one dose of J&J is accepted)

  • The U.S. will not accept someone with prior infection and one dose of Moderna.

Someone with prior infection and an mRNA vaccine dose is not considered ‘fully vaccinated’ for entry into the U.S. because it was not the originally approved dosing regimen. And this is a problem because it’s considered fully vaccinated in Europe.

That distinction could hobble travel plans across Europe, where people who’ve recovered and gotten one shot are considered fully vaccinated by some countries, at least for now. That standard is also one of the eligible scenarios for the EU digital Covid certificate, the bloc’s widely accepted vaccine passport.

Recovering and a single shot of a two dose vaccine is full vaccination in France and Norway (indeed, it’s the status of French President Emmanuel Macron). There’s similar recognition in Greece, Austria, and Italy. But citizens who have followed government guidance in those countries will not be able to travel to the U.S. even though they have greater protection than most who can enter the country and even though they’ll also have to present a negative Covid-19 test.

The vaccination requirement doesn’t protect the U.S. from variants, the virus mutates in similar ways and high prevalence here means we get mutations. Closed borders haven’t stopped the spread of variants. But these requirements show that policymakers are ‘doing something’ and ‘tough on the virus’ even if they don’t change the course of the pandemic.

Yet the rules in place do little to ‘follow the science’ – even government-recognized science – and no one has bothered to offer an explanation for why they’re following World Health Organization bureaucrats, and not European science.

(HT: @crucker)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. it’s even worse here in Clownada were you can go to the US for the day and come back with a test that you took BEFORE you left Canada
    how is that for theatre?

  2. Four more years, at least… quarantines, tests, papers please, etc.
    Early 2026 and it begins to wane.

  3. Gary is a credit card hawker; he has zero credibility in providing public health advice. Nearly every statement made above is based on a cross-study comparison – something anyone with even the most basic scientific training understands is not ok and cannot support a conclusion. On yeah, and immigration policy is not now or ever was solely about national health demographics. Picking any one metric and trying to make sense of entry criteria for any country is a fool’s errand. So, perfect for Gary.

  4. @gary….are they going to lift the covid test requirement for USA citizens, fully vax’d to fly back or are they still requiring a negative test within 72 hours? I can’t find information on this situation. I’m flying back from France on the 15th of Nov

  5. I think it makes sense so that anyone physically within the US is held to the same standards and definition of what “fully vaccinated” means. For example, if an European traveler arrives in NY and needs to show proof-of-vaccination when they enter a restaurant, that proof is consistent with what a US person is required to have. That way there is no discrepancy between individuals based on where they got their vaccination.

  6. @miamiorbust says “On yeah, and immigration policy is not now or ever was solely about national health demographics. Picking any one metric and trying to make sense of entry criteria for any country is a fool’s errand.”

    That’s basically Gary’s point. The measures adopted by the United States Federal government supposedly to protect our country against COVID (which can come from anywhere) were based on various other criteria, unrelated to protecting our country against COVID (which can come from anywhere). And therefore, judged in light of their stated purpose of protecting our country against COVID (which can come from anywhere), they are non-sensical.

  7. Who cares about “laws” and “regulations?”

    Just walk across the southern border with hundreds of thousands of others and disappear.

  8. I suspect that ‘follow the WHO list exactly’ was the attempt to make the new system simpler and somewhat less political, but whiners gotta whine.

  9. Look at it this way no more mean tweets. 81 million counted votes to elect a person to follow science. To build back better. To unite us
    We see this all over the country people start chanting LETS GO BRANDON

  10. What studies are there that show the effectiveness of a single shot of a two-close vaccine on recovered patients? What studies were available in the spring when these countries decided to administer only one dose instead of two to these people?
    If it’s the “gold standard”, you’d expect robust evidence.
    Instead, some European countries made a decision based on a shortage of vaccines and a hunch. Not even all EU countries consider that “fully vaccinated” — Denmark, for one, doesn’t.

  11. It’s far from settled science that previous infection + 1 dose of vaccine is equivalent to being fully vaccinated, not to mention the higher bar to prove that you were infected and have recovered.

  12. This is about what every country is doing. To enter Europe it is mostly the same and to enter the UK. I believe at some point they will change the J&J to 2 shots but for now, 1 is considered fully vaccinated. To me, it only makes sense to go with the rules we currently have instead of making it complicated by changing what is currently standard.

  13. @David Stone
    Like Fauci, I can presume you are an epidimologist?
    Good to know that you and Chump are smarter than Fauci.

  14. The WHO answers to the Chinese Communist Party, who pays Hunter and The Big Guy to do their bidding.

  15. @Rog. I’m really concerned about the USA’s future when I read some of theses incredibly ignorant comments. While there are many commenters who apparently possess knowledge, wisdom and critical thinking is severely lacking. Case in point, Fauci is an administrator and lives in a bureaucracy bubble. He has proven his science is political science.
    But Fauci doesn’t make mean tweets, so sleep well on that while China continues to work their program.
    As a side note, I’m 74 years old and have observed this same circus with different clowns. Nine months is NOT a sufficient amount of time to determine long term effects. It took 10 years for Agent Orange . . If you know what that is.

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