The International Air Transport Association (IATA), together with Airlines for America (A4A) and 28 US and international aviation and tourism groups, released a statement urging the US government to remove the pre-travel PCR testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers entering the US.
According to the statement, vaccinated travelers pose no additional risks to the domestic US population, as the pervasiveness of corona in all 50 states, the rising inoculation levels, and new therapeutics point to removing this requirement for fully vaccinated travelers.
Willie Walsh, Director-General, IATA: “The experience of Omicron has made it clear that travel restrictions have little to no impact in terms of preventing its spread. Moreover, as Omicron is already broadly present across the US, fully vaccinated travelers bring no additional risk to the local population.
“Therefore, international travelers should face no additional screening requirements than what is applied to domestic travel. In fact, at this stage of the pandemic, travel should be managed in the same way as access to shopping malls, restaurants, or offices.”
IATA’s statement further points out that more than 74.3 million people, at least 22% of the US population, have already contracted COVID-19. And the numbers are almost certainly higher, due to asymptomatic infections and limited testing early on.
“However, when combined with an adult population that is 74% fully vaccinated, it is clear that the US is developing very high levels of population immunity,” says the statement.
IATA and the other organizations also pointed out the EU’s recommendation to its member states to remove travel restrictions within the EU. For example, the UK has already announced the removal of pre-departure PCR testing for vaccinated travelers to enter the country. And even Israel is considering ending its pre-travel testing requirement from outbound passengers.
Recent research in Italy, Finland, and the UK by Oxera and Edge Health also supports the conclusion that travel measures do little to control the spread of Omicron when it is already prevalent in the local populace. As the research shows, even if applied at a very early stage, travel restrictions may at best delay the peak of a new wave by a few days and marginally reduce the number of cases.
Furthermore, according to IATA’s most recent air traveler survey, 62% of respondents support removing all testing requirements for those fully vaccinated.”
“Removing the pre-departure testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers will greatly support the recovery of travel and aviation in the US and globally without increasing the spread of COVID-19 and its variants in the US population. There is no use in closing the barn door after the horse has bolted,” said Walsh.