What does the latest Covid vaccine news mean for travel?

"Наилучший порядок вещей — тот, при котором мне предназначено быть, и к чёрту лучший из миров, если меня в нём нет!" Дени Дидро ZMEY
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What’s the news exactly?

The vaccine for Covid developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been approved and will begin to be rolled out in the UK from the second week of December. In early November news of this vaccine was announced, which has since been shown in trials to be 95 per cent effective against Covid-19 – better than anyone hoped. Two more major vaccines were also recently announced: an American one by a biotech company called Moderna, which is nearly 95 per cent effective, and the Oxford University AstraZeneca vaccine (the one the UK was originally pinning its hopes on), which is up to 90 per cent protective, depending on the dose. However Pfizer/BioNTech is the first to be approved for use.

SO WILL THINGS RETURN TO NORMAL SOON?

Not quite, but it’s hoped that life will begin to get back to normal by Easter. The UK will receive 40 million Pfizer/BioNTech doses. At the top of the list of those receiving the approved vaccine are health workers, those in care homes, the elderly and other high-risk people. For the majority of those under 50, there may be quite a wait. Meanwhile five million shots of the Moderna one have been secured, and 100 million of the cheaper Oxford vaccine.

BUT A RETURN TO LESS-RESTRICTED, FURTHER-FLUNG TRAVEL AT SOME POINT IN 2021 IS ON THE CARDS, RIGHT?

It’s very likely. But take note that it will take months for the vaccine to be distributed around the country, and for the R rate to come down. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be kept at a very low temperature (-70C) and will need a huge logistical effort to be rolled out. We also need to see if the vaccine prevents others from being infected. Travelling abroad would also depend on what precautions other countries are taking. The travel industry has welcomed the news, though, as a positive development.

WHAT’S BEEN THE REACTION?

With the ongoing good news about the vaccines, the travel world is experiencing a big surge in search and bookings for 2021, with Easter ski trips, long-haul holidays in the Maldives and Mediterranean beach breaks being particularly popular. George Morgan-Grenville of Red Savannah, which specialises in tailor-made travel and villa holidays around the world, said in late November, ‘With news that a vaccine is on the way, and quarantine likely to be reduced to five-seven days, we’ve seen a significant upturn in enquiries and bookings. Web traffic has now surpassed pre-Covid levels and there is a distinct feeling that business is on the cusp of a return to normality. We are seeing bookings not only for December departures, but also across the whole of 2021.’

So what can I do right now?

Start researching and booking your next holiday for when we can travel properly again. Remember though: the vaccine won’t affect the current second wave, so everyone is being asked to abide by the lockdown rules.

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