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BBC Radio 4’s Today programme had an interesting segment this morning, discussing the possibility of holidays abroad this summer. It included the following comments from, Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling:
“I think that international travel this summer is, for the average holidaymaker, sadly I think, extremely unlikely.
“I think we are running a real risk if we do start to have lots of people going overseas in July, for instance, and August because of the potential for bringing more of these new variants back into the country.
“What is really dangerous is if we jeopardise our vaccination campaign by having these variants, where the vaccines don’t work as effectively, spreading more rapidly.”
It’s important to make clear that this is just the public view of one member, but the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling does feed into SAGE, and therefore influences Government policy.
The official line from Ministers is that it is still too early to make a judgement. That’s fine for now, but it’s not a line that can hold for much longer, with the Global Travel Taskforce due to report on 12th April.
With further lockdowns only now being implemented in parts of Europe with fast-growing numbers of COVID cases, the inevitable hospitalisation and daily death figures will be peaking at around the time the Global Travel Taskforce is reporting. The overwhelming political pressure will be for a safety first approach and a ‘Great British Summer’, particularly if the scientific advice is clear-cut.
So, don’t bank on a European holiday this summer.
What is perhaps more likely is the re-introduction of travel corridors to countries that have similar vaccination rates to the UK, and/or low COVID case numbers. If you really are desperate to head abroad, keep an eye on the vaccination progress in America.
Feature image courtesy of and © Michael Giorgio Castielli