With vaccination rates on the rise and death rates associated with COVID-19 dropping in Europe and other parts of the world, many people are planning to travel this summer and beyond. But experts say the rapidly spreading new mutated strain Delta is a new concern for travelers, especially for those who haven’t been vaccinated.
And writer Concepción de Leon said, in her report published by the newspaper “New York Times” ( anytime American ), that the European Union announced on June 18 that the United States would be added to the “safe list”, a decision that would allow even vaccinated visitors from The United States will allow entry into the 27 member states for non-essential travel, although these countries can impose their own restrictions and requirements for entry.
The EU decision comes the same week that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified the mutated strain of the “delta” coronavirus as a “variant of concern” as it appears to be spreading more quickly and may affect people more severely than previous forms of the virus. If you are wondering how the mutating virus will affect your travel plans, here is everything you need to know before booking a flight:
- Where does the delta variable spread?
So far, the variant first identified in India has spread to more than 80 countries as of June 16, according to the World Health Organization. At a press conference on 10 June, Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said the variable was “on the verge of taking root” in Europe.
According to Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, this will likely be the case in other countries as well. “If you are abroad and this summer, your chances of encountering a delta variant, whether in the United States, Europe or other parts of the world, will be very high,” she explained.
Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, said the delta variant currently accounts for 6-10% of cases in the United States, and will likely be the dominant strain in that country by August.
He added that if you’ve had a full vaccine, especially a two-dose vaccine, “don’t worry about the delta variant. People who have been vaccinated still do well against that variant, but it’s a type of virus that requires a high degree of immunity to evade, so you really need to get on two doses of the vaccine.
- Where can I find vaccination or infection rates for the places I want to travel to?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a global map of mutated strains showing the countries in which they were detected, although it does not show infection rates. It also indicates the level of risk by country.
Using information from government sources collected by the Our World in Data project at Oxford University, The New York Times has been tracking global immunizations, showing the percentage of people vaccinated in individual countries. You can also search online on the websites of the national health department of the country you plan to visit for more specific data.
Inequality in access to the vaccine around the world has left poor countries without adequate protection, with infections continuing to rise in parts of South America, Southeast Asia and Africa. According to the World Health Organization, 75% of vaccine doses went to only 10 countries.
Dr Jha said it was important to look not only at vaccination rates but also at the vaccine used. Brazil, Turkey and other countries rely on one or both of the main vaccines manufactured by Chinese companies. He explained, “We do not have data that Chinese vaccines, for example, have the same level of efficacy in general, especially with regard to the delta variant.”
- I am fully vaccinated, what does it mean to travel to a place with a low number of vaccinations?
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that Viserbiontek and Moderna vaccines reduce the risk of infection with any form of the virus by 91% for fully vaccinated people. A single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 66% effective in preventing infection.
According to Dr. Nozzo, it is possible for vaccinated people to catch the infection, but the incidence of this is very low, and even if they do become infected, they are unlikely to contract the disease. She added that those who show symptoms are more likely to spread the virus, so “if vaccines do a good job of keeping you asymptomatic, the likelihood of you spreading the infection is very low.”
And if you want to reduce your odds of not getting infected, Dr. Nozzo recommends continuing to follow safety protocols such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces. And if you’ve been vaccinated, but your immune system is weakened by a medical condition or by certain medications you’re taking, be aware that you may not be fully protected, says Dr.
- What if I do not receive a vaccination?
“If you are someone who is not immunized, I think that makes your travel expectations more dangerous,” Dr. Nozzo said. “I really wouldn’t advise people to travel in the era of the increasing prevalence of these most contagious and perhaps most dangerous strains of the virus.”
As for Dr. Jha, the “simple answer” to protect yourself as a traveler is to get vaccinated because this makes the possibility of exposure to the delta virus much less dangerous, noting that “if you are not vaccinated or you are with people who are not immunized, it is already a great risk.”
He stated that travelers can use other safety measures to protect themselves, such as wearing masks or social distancing, “but if you are going on vacation this summer, it is a less pleasant way to spend the holiday.”
Dr. Nozzo suggests thinking of vaccination and safety measures as different layers of protection against the virus. “Each layer adds something. Vaccination is the thickest layer of protection against all forms of the virus.”
- What about my children?
Dr. Jha said: If your children are over 12, vaccinate them. But for those under that age who can’t get vaccinated in the United States, he suggests continuing to follow the rules for wearing masks and social distancing. Getting vaccinated can help protect your children.
“The most important thing we can do to protect children under the age of 12 is to make sure that everyone around them, and all adults, are vaccinated. There is very good evidence that when adults are vaccinated, the number of children infected goes down,” he stressed.
- How does the variable affect travel restrictions?
When the initial version of the Corona virus swept the world last spring, most countries in the world took preventive steps, including restricting local movement and closing their borders to non-essential travel.
Now, many countries are opening their borders, but concern remains about the virus, especially about the delta variant. Some countries are making specific changes to their entry decisions due to the variable, while others are calling for emergency closures.
On June 18, Italy’s health minister said the nation would require a mandatory 5-day quarantine and testing of people coming from Britain, even if they had been vaccinated, due to concerns about the delta variant. It also expanded the ban on arrivals from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
On the same day, Portugal ordered the closure of the Lisbon metropolitan area over the weekend, as a way to curb the rise in the number of virus cases. Approximately half of the cases reported are delta variant.
The rules regarding testing and entry requirements for another country are evolving, and can change rapidly from day to day. Be sure to check your destination requirements before booking your flight, but also make sure you follow the latest rules in the days before you travel.