MONTREAL/SYDNEY (Reuters) – Aviation industry opposition to requiring mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for passengers has intensified as impending drug approvals trigger a debate over their role in air travel.
Airports Council International, which represents airports worldwide, joined most airlines in calling for a choice between testing or vaccination, fearing a blanket rule imposing pre-flight inoculation would be as disruptive as quarantines.
Qantas Airways triggered the debate last week when it said a COVID-19 vaccination would be necessary for passengers on its international flights, which remain largely idle because of Australia’s strict border controls.
But other airlines, and now global airports, are worried that waiting for vaccines would bar people from traveling until they are rolled out widely, crippling business in regions, such as Europe that have relatively small domestic aviation markets.
“Just as quarantine effectively halted the industry, a universal requirement for vaccines could do the same,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira told Reuters.
“While we welcome the rapid development and deployment of vaccines, there will be a considerable period before they are widely available,” he added.
“The industry cannot wait till vaccination becomes available worldwide. During the transition period, tests and vaccines together will play a key role on the industry recovery.”
Australia has indicated people arriving from abroad will need to be vaccinated or to self-isolate in one of a limited number of hotels.
Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the policy could spread to other countries, noting proof of vaccination is already required for yellow fever for some destinations.
“Other governments are moving in that direction,” he told reporters on Thursday.
TESTING OR VACCINES?
But the head of airline trade group IATA, which last week downgraded its financial outlook for the sector as a second wave of COVID-19 cases swept Europe and the United States, believes making vaccines compulsory would not work globally.
Systematic testing is “more critical to reopening borders than the vaccine”, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac told Reuters.
Shukor Yusof, head of Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics, said Southeast Asian countries would take different approaches on vaccine requirements. Asian countries have some of the lowest case numbers of the novel coronavirus globally.
Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said on Wednesday that COVID-19 “passports” to show inoculation and infection history are a good idea, but hard in practice. [L1N2II0FV]
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on Thursday for a common set of global recognitions for COVID-19 vaccines.
Some experts say vaccines will be difficult to mandate because of limited supply and a range of quality.
Dr David Freedman, a U.S. infectious diseases specialist, believes more countries will follow Britain’s lead and use testing
“The [National Health Service], the [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] are working really hard, right now, to try and find a solution, so that we can get this into care homes if we possibly can … at this point, there is no absolute assurance of that,” Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam told ITV’s “This Morning,” according to Reuters.
The UK on Wednesday became the first country to grant emergency authorization to Pfizer’s vaccine for the virus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to decide on a similar authorization for the drug next week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the government is still working out the challenges of distributing the vaccine, which must be stored in extremely cold temperatures. Van-Tam said that the drug can be kept in refrigerator temperatures for up to five days, it cannot be removed from refrigeration and replaced indefinitely.
“One thing we can’t do is … end up with a vaccine that’s been handled incorrectly, and then isn’t properly viable at the end of the distribution chain,” he said, according to the news service.
Nursing home residents and workers are among those the British government has said will take priority in the initial rollout of the vaccine.
NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens added that regulators will need to sign off on splitting the vaccine’s dose packs before they can be delivered to individual facilities.
“If the MHRA … as we expect they will, give approval for a safe way of splitting these packs of 975 doses, then, the good news is that we will be able to start distributing those to care homes,” he said, according to Reuters.
Philipp Rosenbaum, the Senior Infectious Diseases Analyst at data and analytics firm GlobalData, said the UK’s size, health care system and population density, make it an “ideal” test case for distribution.
“If problems do arise, this will not bode well for distribution in countries with longer distances to vaccine distribution centers [or] less-developed infrastructure,” he said.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Services company stocks, especially those linked to travel and leisure, have room to rocket higher next year as consumers venture out again after spending on goods but cutting back on services during the pandemic, hedge fund manager Dinakar Singh said.
With vaccines against Covid on the horizon, Singh, who runs Axon Capital, expects a flood of pent-up demand for travel to see far-flung business clients and employees, visit grandparents and take vacations.
“Things are going to be explosive,” Singh, who headed Goldman Sachs’ proprietary trading unit before forming his own fund in 2005, said at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit. “There well could be a huge surge of pent up demand for activities that have been restricted because of the virus.”
After personal savings rates climbed early in the pandemic, stocks broadly recovered. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has gained 12% since January and has rebounded 60% from its March lows. Real estate values also have increased, so many consumers should be ready to splurge if they manage to get through the crisis with their jobs intact.
While business travel may ultimately be reshaped by video conferencing, markets still may underestimate the near-term demand for travel and entertainment, Singh said.
Singh said stocks that stand to benefit include airlines, hotels and resorts, financial services companies like American Express, which is frequently used for travel, and entertainment venues like Madison Square Garden. His fund is invested with some of these U.S. based stocks, most of which were hit hard in 2020 and whose prices remain lower.
Even companies like beverage maker Coca-Cola could see a positive knock-on effect if concerts and sporting events come back, opening the market for concession vendors to sell soda to millions of people.
In addition to these U.S. stocks, Singh said international markets like Japan and India are attractive. Indian banks, in particular, could see share prices climb, fueled by structural growth and “turbocharged” by a cyclical recovery, he said.
Axon Capital has jumped more than 50% this year after gaining 17% in 2019, an investor familiar with the return said.
Singh cautioned that this recovery will differ from previous ones like the one in 2009 because this year’s downturn was unusual; marked by a crash in spending on services and an “unprecedented and unsustainable” boom in spending on goods.
“The problem is that the pattern people are seeing is the wrong pattern,” Singh said, noting that traditional cyclicals — materials and commodity stocks, for example — could actually be relative losers, not winners, during this recovery.
“At some point you have what you need,” he said, noting that retailers ranging from Home Depot to Walmart have already benefited from strong sales of chairs, plexiglass shields, upgraded electronics and comfortable gear to lounge in around home.
He also said next year could be a breakout year for certain strong stock pickers who have time to analyze potential bets and stick with them. In recent years, a lot of capital has
Like pretty much everything in 2020, Thanksgiving looks a lot different due to COVID-19.
Many are spending their first Thanksgiving alone or without loved ones. Families are turning video calls into the dinner table. Even the Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons are social distancing.
“I know the country has grown weary of the fight,” President-elect Joe Biden said in a Thanksgiving eve address urging unity. “We need to remember we’re at war with the virus, not with one another. Not with each other.”
Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
Biden gave his address a day after the U.S. reported its deadliest day since May, with more than 2,000 new fatalities due to the virus. It could get worse: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday published a national ensemble forecast that predicts 294,000 to 321,000 coronavirus deaths by Dec. 19.
In Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, public health officials said infections are skyrocketing, with approximately one out of every 145 people infected with the virus. That estimate was at 1 in 880 residents two months ago, according to the Los Angeles Times.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 12.8 million cases and over 263,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 60.8 million cases and 1.42 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.
A widespread vaccine for COVID-19 hasn’t reached the public yet, but already, airlines are planning for how to handle travelers with and without immunity. On Monday, Alan Joyce, the CEO of Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways, shared that his airline would eventually only allow for vaccinated travelers to board its flights. The move would essentially lock down the spread of the virus through air travel and allow for travelers to move around the globe unhindered by quarantines, though it would only open up the carrier to the select population that had received the vaccine.
Joyce’s marks come as part of the early discussion around how airlines will plan for and accommodate travelers once the vaccine becomes more widespread across the traveling population. Already, some air carriers have enforced strict safety measures in-flight to stem the spread of COVID-19 while in transit; by late October, Alaska, Delta and United had banned over 900 passengers for not complying with mask mandates while some carriers are still blocking middle seats.
Restricting travelers based on level of vaccination may yield a new level of contention between airlines and passengers as carriers look to balance safety with sentiment. In some regions, the virus and the safety precautions taken around the virus have turned into polarizing topics. Beyond the airline-level bans, passengers have turned to social media and public shaming to argue their respective viewpoints.
To help enforce policies, the BBC reports that Qantas is already considering modifying its terms and conditions to ensure that it has grounds to restrict travel from unvaccinated travelers. Other air carriers will need to look into sketching out the same legal boundaries if restrictions are built around vaccinated travelers.
One other consideration for how airlines will allow for vaccinated travelers is in how the public is able to provide credentials. Right now, many routes around the world require travelers to present a recent, negative COVID-19 test in order to fly. On a similar tack, airlines will need to come up with a way to check and verify passenger immunity before the traveler boards the flight — or even reaches the airport.
Those restrictions will also need to adapt based on which countries and populations receive the vaccines first.
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia will lift more internal border restrictions in a boost for tourism as new coronavirus infections slow to a trickle, while first vaccines could be available in March, a government minister said on Tuesday.
Queensland state, a popular holiday destination, will allow visitors next week from the country’s two most populous states, New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, after closing its borders in August.
NSW has since notched a month without any COVID-19 cases where the source is unknown and restrictions on arrivals from Sydney will be eased on Dec. 1, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
Residents of Victoria, previously the country’s coronavirus hotspot, will also be welcomed if the state has no new cases on Wednesday, which would mark 26 days without community transmission.
“Queensland is good to go,” Palaszczuk told reporters in Brisbane.
NSW and Victoria opened their border on Monday, while the South Australia-Victorian border opens fully next week, in welcome news for local airline companies, Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia.
Qantas said it will run more than 1,200 return flights from Victoria and NSW into Queensland in the run-up to Christmas.
The moves will please Prime Minister Scott Morrison who has pushed state leaders to relax some curbs to help revive the economy, which shrank 7% in the three months to end-June, the most since records began in 1959.
Looking further out, Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia – which has agreed to buy nearly 34 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine – is increasingly confident it can complete a vaccination programme after the release of preliminary trial results.
“Our vaccine timeline is beginning to strengthen. The news from overseas is that we are on track for first vaccines in March,” Hunt told reporters in Sydney.
AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine, cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than its rivals, could be as much as 90% effective.
Australia has reported more than 27,800 cases of COVID-19 and 907 deaths since the pandemic began, but estimates there are fewer than 100 active COVID-19 cases remaining, mostly people in hotel quarantine.
Victoria said on Tuesday it had zero active cases for the first time in over eight months following a strict lockdown after daily infections peaked at more than 700 in early August.
Qantas, meanwhile, said it will insist in future that international travelers have a COVID-19 vaccination before they fly, describing the move as “a necessity”.
“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say, for international travelers, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft,” Chief Executive Alan Joyce told broadcaster Channel Nine.
Australia closed its international borders in March and currently requires returning travelers from overseas to quarantine for two weeks.
(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Richard Pullin)
When the news of potential coronavirus vaccines broke, some people immediately started planning their next vacation.
Skyscanner saw spikes in both searches and bookings on the days that news of a potential coronavirus vaccine hit.
While the pandemic had travelers avoiding big cities, when news of the Pfizer vaccine broke, people started searching for big cities once more.
When news of Moderna’s vaccine hit, travelers started dreaming bigger and began searching for more international destinations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that “travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.”
Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When the news of potential coronavirus vaccines broke, the world uttered a collective sigh of relief.
And, despite the fact that the vaccines likely won’t be available to everyone in the US until May 2021, some people have immediately started planning their next vacation.
Travel search engine Skyscanner told Insider that on November 9, 2020, when news of Pfizer’s promising vaccine broke, searches for economy class round-trips from the US increased by 39% compared to the previous day. Bookings jumped 25%.
Similarly, on November 16, 2020, when news of the promising Moderna vaccine hit, searches for economy class round-trips from the US rose by 63% compared to the previous day. Bookings spiked 17%.
On November 9, tentative travelers kept their potential trips pretty local, with US destinations making up most of the top 10.
However, what US cities Americans were searching for came as a surprise, as most of the list consisted of large cities, with New York, Los Angeles, and Miami rounding out the top three.
Whereas the pandemic had travelers avoiding big cities in lieu of small towns, camping, and road trips, the vaccine news had big cities shoot up to the top of people’s bucket lists once more.
Even more interesting is that, once news of a second potentially viable vaccine broke, travelers began dreaming even bigger, with international destinations from London to Munich making up the top 10 most-searched destinations.
Most experts predicted travel rebounding
Mark Crossey, the US Traveler Expert for Skyscanner, said that US travelers are emboldened by most airlines’ scrapped change fees.
“The emergence of truly flexible travel fares has not gone unnoticed, and US travelers are taking advantage,” he said, adding that low fares and flexibility will likely be around for a while to encourage bookings.
He added that the post-vaccine news spike just shows how unwavering Americans’ appetite for travel is.
Insider reported in April that many experts predicted this, agreeing that while the question of when and how long it will take to get there was unclear, travel would rebound swiftly.
“People’s desire to travel is resilient,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson previously said in a statement to Insider. “What we’ve seen through SARS, Ebola, terrorist attacks, and numerous natural disasters is that the travel industry has always rebounded.”
Leaders from Japan and New Zealand on Friday warned countries against the temptation of retreating into trade protectionism, saying that keeping markets open is the way to restore a global economy battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking by video link from Tokyo to a meeting of Asia-Pacific CEOs, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said a “free and open Indo-Pacific will be the cornerstone for the prosperity of this region.”
Japan and 14 other Asian neighbours on Sunday signed the world’s largest free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Suga, who took office in September, said Japan will next push for a wider free trade pact among the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
“Amidst a risk of inward-looking temptations in the face of the slump of the global economy, making rules for a free and fair global economy is critically important,” he said. “While continuing to promote WTO reform, Japan will aspire for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.”
The event came ahead of a meeting late Friday of APEC leaders hosted by Malaysia that will be conducted via video conference due to the pandemic. Malaysian officials said US President Donald Trump, who is busy challenging the outcome of the recent presidential election, will participate.
Trump last participated in the APEC forum in 2017 and last weekend skipped the East Asia Summits, also held online. Trump, or his representative, was initially due to speak to the CEOs Friday morning but that was canceled, with no reasons given.
Churches in the Philippine capital Manila have been told not to hold any Christmas carol activities this season as part of measures to limit the transmission of Covid-19.
The Philippines, a catholic majority country, has one of the longest Christmas periods in the world, with celebrations beginning at the start of September and, for some, lasting as late as Valentine’s Day.
It’s the country’s most important holiday, but this year’s festivities will be different: as well as a ban on carols in church, there are also limits on church attendance,
California enacts coronavirus curfew for majority of state’s 40m residents
California will impose a temporary overnight curfew affecting nearly the entire population beginning this weekend, as the state battles to get a surge in coronavirus cases under control.
The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, announced the limited stay-at-home order on Thursday, saying that all non-essential work and gathering must stop from 10pm to 5am. The order will apply to the 41 counties currently in the most restrictive tier of reopening rules, which accounts for nearly the entire state population of 40 million people:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised Americans not to travel for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, due to the nationwide surge in new coronavirus cases.
“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Dr Henry Walke, the CDC’s coronavirus incident manager, said during a briefing today.
“For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living,” Walke added.
Walke particularly expressed fear about the possibility of Americans unknowingly spreading coronavirus to family members, saying, “One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it.”
In a set of updated guidelines, the CDC recommended celebrating Thanksgiving virtually or only with members of one’s own household.
The guidance says, “In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.”
The news comes a day after the US coronavirus death toll surpassed 250,000, which is far higher than any other country in the world:
Chinese President Xi Jinping is calling for closer international cooperation on making a vaccine for the coronavirus available, as his government announces that the vaccine developed by state-owned pharmaceutical company SinoPharm has been administered to 1m people.
Xi spoke Thursday in an address delivered via video at an event at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Xi said: “To beat the virus and promote the global recovery, the international community must close ranks and jointly respond to the crisis and meet the tests.” He said cooperation would include closer coordination on policies for development and distribution of a vaccine.
Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm are in the late stages of testing vaccines, putting them among nearly a dozen companies at or near that level of development. That has introduced both commercial and political competition among countries and companies to be the first to offer a solution to the pandemic.
“To justify its authorisation of an unproven vaccine, Beijing said the products’ use had been restricted to high-risk individuals, though that included not only obvious groups like frontline health professionals, but also school, supermarket and public transport workers.”
The South China Morning Post reports that SinoPharm’s CEO has said there