The news of a possible government-approved vaccine has been making headlines across the world in recent weeks. It now seems the UK is positioned to be the first nation to approve a vaccine to be distributed in the coming weeks.

According to the UK Department of Health and Social Care, the recently trialled vaccine will be made available to the public, allowing citizens across the UK to be immunised against COVID-19, from as early as next week.

Vaccination on upper

The hope is that the newly approved vaccine will play a crucial role in curtailing the rampant coronavirus, with authorities having granted temporary authorisation for emergency use to the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German counterpart BioNTech. The companies say they have enough of the two-shot vaccine to immunise 20 million people.

 “This permission is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science would win, and we applaud the [Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency] for their ability to conduct a careful evaluation and take timely action to help protect the people of the UK,” said Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla.

The companies had previously signed an agreement to supply 40 million doses to the UK with delivery in 2020 and 2021. Many other countries around the globe, including the United States, are also considering approval for various coronavirus vaccines before the end of the year.

Also Read: How Travel Will Change after the Pandemic

Impact on Travel

Over the past few months, countries have slowly started reopening their borders, with Mexico being the first to welcome all tourists and visitors with no COVID-19 entry requirements. Cancun subsequently received over 70,000 visitors in its first 30 days after reopening for tourism with no testing or quarantines.  

The initial hope was that travel would return to normal in a post-COVID world, but on closer investigation, it could be quite the opposite. With invasive nasal tests, ever-changing permitted country lists and multi-day quarantines, travellers are overwhelmed with just the idea of travelling, and many are saying they are waiting for the vaccine until they travel again.

Mixed Reactions to Vaccine

With many of the wealthier countries securing millions of doses of potential vaccines from pharmaceutical companies, this could potentially mean that countries like Australia, Canada, UK and the US could begin immunising their citizens by 2021. However, many people are vehemently stating they will not be getting the vaccine at all. With reports showing that less than half of Americans would get the vaccine, it looks as if international travel is still going to be significantly disrupted right through 2021. 

Health Passports

A possible way forward could be the advent of health passports. Also known as immunity passports or immunity certificates, these certifications, supported by an antibody test, provide digital proof through the use of a barcode or similar, that a traveller is COVID-19 free. Many countries may be implementing these measures to ensure the protection of both travellers and citizens. These health passports are already implemented on a low level in countries like China and India, with many in agreement that these digital certifications will be instrumental in a safe reopening of the world post-COVID-19.

Also read: Growing Interest in Digital Health Passports May Reopen Borders Faster

Bianca Church