A bit later today, the US will pass another “milestone” – 4% of the total population will have become infected by the virus (13.3 million people).
The airlines are disclosing a new idea they have, which they hope will enable them to start operating internationally again. They are suggesting they will require international passengers to have a new type of “digital vaccination certificate” that will reliably prove the passenger has been vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. No vaccination (or at least, no compliant certificate proving your vaccination) would mean you’d be refused travel.
This is not about making it safe for people to fly. This is solely and entirely about trying to persuade countries to allow international travel to resume. On the face of it, it is a sensible idea. But obscured behind the facade of the good idea are a number of as yet unclear issues.
First of course has to be the issues of cost, accreditation and validation. How much will it cost to get one of these digital certificates, and who will be authorized to issue them? Will your local family pharmacy, or the nearest Costco – places you’d get a ‘flu shot from and may be able to get a Covid shot from in the future be able to issue such certificates? Or will the process be cumbersome and restricted only to certain health services? What will the cost of such a certificate be, and if they can only be issued by some health providers, will there be a hidden extra cost of having to get a more expensive vaccination, too?
We know all about being able to get fake “service animal” and virus test certificates at present. What is to stop this new type of certificate being easily faked, too?
Then there is the question of how long such certificates will remain valid. At present, the vaccine providers have no idea how long their vaccines will provide protection for.
There is also a question – what about people who have had a Covid infection and subsequently recovered? Will they be eligible for a certificate too, or will they need to be vaccinated, even if they now have naturally acquired immunity?
Some people have expressed concern about another form of control and monitoring being imposed on us and our travels, but so many similar controls and monitoring is already 110% in place in other forms. We need regular passports (and often visas) to travel, and governments can load an unlimited amount of information into databases linked to our passports and other unique identifiers. So too can airlines, who track us at least as closely as do governments (and don’t forget other keepers of our most private secrets such as private credit bureaus and other personal data collection services).
Other people have expressed concern at the thought of mandatory vaccination now being required in order to travel internationally. We can understand their dislike of this concept, but there are plenty of situations where vaccination is mandatory already, and there is nothing new about requiring various vaccinations as a precursor to travel.
It may cause some practical problems though. It seems there needs to be two or three weeks between the first and second doses of a vaccine, and then another seven days for the body to develop protective antibodies. So, a month lead time, perhaps, between deciding to be vaccinated and being approved to travel – assuming you can get the vaccine without any delay.
Now imagine you suddenly have an emergency or unexpected opportunity that requires you to travel not in a month’s time, but today or tomorrow. What will happen? Will there be compassionate exemptions? Will such exempted travelers have to be encased in bio-hazard suits? Who only knows.
The airlines seem to have designated Qantas as the test airline to see what public opinion is on the matter. Earlier this week Qantas announced it would require proof of vaccination for all its international passengers – what in public relation terms would be termed “a trial balloon” to see how the public reacts. Qantas is able to do this without fear of any negative consequence, because its announcement is without meaning or impact. Currently all its international flights – every one of them – are canceled until July next year.
While this is all about the airlines, some countries are seeking ways of tracking visitors, too – China in particular. A cynic might note that some countries (including China) want ways to track all visitors all the time, not just during the pandemic, and this is clearly a way of using the pandemic to leverage and accelerate the deployment of such systems.
New York City also continues to seek ways to restrict who travels in to the city, and will have vehicle checkpoints at major routes into the city. They are requiring 14 day quarantines that seem to be somewhat vague in their definition and uncertain in their enforcement, or a clear virus test. Maybe NYC hasn’t yet realized that a single virus test is useless and will probably miss half of everyone infected.
We understand that companies such as Ticketmaster may also be planning to require vaccination proof before they’ll sell you a ticket to attend a concert or other mass event.
Is is something to do with being French? We note that all three countries with the word “France/French” in their names are in the top ten lists for most active new case numbers. But of course the answer is that it is just an unhappy coincidence, because another French heritage/French speaking country, New Caledonia, is one of the least affected of all countries, being placed at number 198 lowest on the list of 218 countries with the virus. New Caledonia’s case rate is 112/million, which compares with French Polynesia’s rate of 48,952/million – a 437 times greater infection rate.
European countries are now on the top three slots in the minor country table, and four of the top five in both the major country table and the death rate table.
The US moved up two places in the death rate table to seventh place. It will probably remain there for a while.
It is stunning to compare what happened between Sunday and today between the best and worst US states. The best state (Vermont) had 317 new cases per million. The worst state (ND) had 4,932 new cases per million – over 15 times more than VT.
US Best and Worst States
|Last time||Now||Last time||Now|
|1 Best||VT (5,816)||VT (6,133)||VT (101)||VT (103)|
|51 Worst||ND (95,377)||ND (100,309)||NJ (1,902)||NJ (1,920)|
Top Case Rates Minor Countries
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|6||French Polynesia||French Polynesia|
|10||French Guiana||French Guiana|
Top Case Rates Major Countries
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|2||Czech Republic||Czech Republic|
Top Death Rate Major Countries
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
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Items below include a look at a material that might kill viruses that otherwise accumulate on high-contact surfaces, public health officials do a 180° switch in their “how to avoid the virus” messaging (except for those who don’t), how long before things get back to normal, and the crumbling story about the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine, combined with the continued lack of necessary data about all vaccine candidates.
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Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again on Sunday.