The NFL just announced that it will stop testing fully vaccinated and asymptomatic players every week. Yep, it’s a bold move.
To some, this is a return of common sense in a place where everyone who wants to be vaccinated and protected has absolutely been offered the opportunity. To others, it’s seen as a highly brazen and cavalier move.
Like it or not, vital or not, testing before flying sucks and travel will never recover fully while it exists. Why? I never know if I’m going somewhere until the day before I travel. I never know if I’ll be coming back within 10 days of plan, until the day before I travel.
On every trip I take, I risk being separated from my family for at least 10 days longer than expected and at this time of year, any hiccup, even an asymptomatic positive test could mean quarantine for the holidays in a faraway place.
Travel With Fear
I’m a relatively fearless traveler, but it’s hard to enjoy any international movement right now. When traveling for work, it’s even worse.
I plan, I pay, and I don’t know if it’s all in vain until a $5 test in the days or hours before travel tells me if I can travel, no matter how many vaccines I’ve had, or how well I feel.
For leisure travel, it’s not ideal, but when work travel is required, and money is on the line for actually turning up, it’s a new level of chaos. Insurance? Yeah, fine, but that’s not the point. The point is, every trip creates extreme financial and sanity risk.
It’s the week before Christmas and I’m in Las Vegas, about 5,229 miles from where I currently call “home” in the UK. I came for a travel conference for which I would be a key speaker.
The conference, nor I, really knew whether I’d actually be coming until the day before I arrived, because like all other fully vaccinated people entering the US right now, I need a negative test no more than 1 day before travel.
Coming back to the UK, I’ll also need a test. If it’s positive, I’ll be forced to isolate in the USA for at least 10 days, which would see me spending Christmas in Las Vegas alone, a couple thousand miles from family and friends.
Spoiler alert: I already received my PCR test result (negative) before writing this, so I know I’ll be coming home. I just wanted to clearly illustrate the real jeopardy everyone faces on every international trip to or from destinations which require a pre-flight test, including the United States.
And of course, if it wasn’t good news, I’d need to book myself another 10 nights in a hotel too, which isn’t chump change in this busy city. For some, it might not even be financially possible.
Why Risk It?
That’s not really my take, or a feasible “plan” to get the world back together. That’s just negative energy.
If my family were to test positive prior to a leisurely vacation, we’d lose out on valuable sanity break time, actual money and potentially time already booked off work. We’d be able to try again, so it’s not the end of the world, but it’s really not reasonable.
With work travel, where fortunes, outcomes and careers can hang on “being in the room”, it’s just madness right now. No work trip that crosses a border is solidified until hours before, except when visiting countries that are recognizing vaccination status.
Spain, for example, doesn’t require most fully vaccinated visitors to take any covid-19 tests before arrival into the country. If I book a trip to Spain as a fully vaccinated visitor, I know I’m going — which is a huge differentiator to the rules in place in the US and UK, among countless others.
In places where vaccinations have been available to everyone, for free, for nearly a year now, I really struggle to see how much of a risk a fully vaccinated and boosted person is adding to any equation. In countries where that’s not true yet, it’s another story.
Spain recognizes the success vaccines provide in preventing severe illness or death, and continues to offer citizens opportunities to become vaccinated themselves. Why don’t others?
Does Pre-Flight Testing Work?
Pre-flight testing is a measure that makes a full international rebound impossible for the travel industry. In places where vaccine access has been limited and people have not had the opportunity to be vaccinated, it’s still important — but what about places where that’s not the case?
To date, there’s been very little evidence to show increased benefit to the trajectories of national health situations in countries requiring pre-flight testing, versus others that do not.
It’s one of those things that sounds good, if the pursuit is having “zero” cases, but I’ve yet to see an expert who believes there will be a world with zero cases, maybe ever. They’re something we must learn to live with, as with other endemic illnesses.
This would suggest viruses travel anyway — they definitely do — so in places where covid-19 vaccines are fully available, the harm to recovery, economy and consumer confidence brought on by testing might be greater than the marginal benefit of maybe weeding out cases from fully vaccinated people.
So What’s The Solution?
This may be a bit controversial, but it’s my blog and my take and I can write whatever I want. And yes, as regulars will know, I do!
As much as I think people who have refused vaccines are a bit nuts for refusing to accept the incredibly conclusive data about how effective they are in preventing severe illness, hospitalization or death, I do believe in vital freedoms and liberties to make personal choices with our bodies. That goes for all sexes.
On that basis, I think fully vaccinated and boosted people should be exempt from testing for travel between countries where vaccines are readily available to anyone who wants one. Kinda the same way that countries stopped require proof of other vaccinations, like Typhoid fever, from certain countries.
Instead of banning the unvaccinated, they should be required to test within 1 day of travel via an approved lab which uploads results to a block chain level security system, to prevent fraud, and then be presented with a digitally verified QR code.
No more BS results — of which many believe up to 50% are fake.
This would eliminate testing fraud and therefore guarantee that anyone unvaccinated was truly negative within a day of travel, which significantly moves the risk needle, yet still allows personal choice.
I’m 100%, all about making travel easier for those who’ve taken the crucial step in becoming fully vaccinated, and also about not creating a reductionist society where only people who do things one way are included.
I’d love to live in a world where people believe in science over Facebook — sorry, Meta — conspiracy theorists, but until then, this is my best take on moving away from these brutally worrisome testing policies for vaccinated people, while protecting freedoms.
I certainly think more people might consider getting vaccinated if there were big, clear hoops removed in various aspects of life just for doing so. The difference in getting a test before every flight, with no certainty of whether you’d be able to go, versus the freedom of knowing that if you’re vaccinated, you’re free to go, would be big.