US urged to accept AstraZeneca vaccine to open up travel from UK

Non-recognition will ‘seriously depress’ consumer demand, says tourism council

Helen Coffey
Thursday 26 August 2021 12:49 BST
AstraZeneca has not been approved by the CDC
AstraZeneca has not been approved by the CDC (AFP via Getty Images)

The US is being urged to accept the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine if travel from the UK to the US is ever to reopen.

The country’s government currently doesn’t officially recognise the Oxford-made vaccine, which is one of the three types currently being administered in the UK, alongside Moderna and Pfizer.

The US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formally approved the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week.

Continued failure to recognise AstraZeneca will “seriously depress” consumer demand and prevent the much-needed revival of transatlantic travel, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has said.

Leisure travel from the UK to the US for non-American residents has been banned since March 2020, regardless of travellers’ vaccination status.

The UK loosened its restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors from the States earlier in August, allowing them to swerve quarantine and simply present a pre-departure and post-arrival Covid test.

Unvaccinated travellers are still permitted to enter the UK but must quarantine at home or the place they’re staying for 10 days and take an additional PCR test on day eight of self-isolation.

The US’s travel rules are far more draconian after a series of Presidential proclamations.

Even if it were to offer a reciprocal agreement allowing double-jabbed Brits to enter the country, until the CDC formally recognises AstraZeneca, approximately 23.9 million people from the UK would be discriminated against.

“It’s crucial the US authorities step forward to formally approve the AstraZeneca vaccine as a matter of urgency, to enable cross-border mobility and the return of transatlantic travel between the UK and US,” said Virginia Messina, senior vice president of the WTTC.

“Unless they give it the green light, the US will effectively remain closed to the vast majority of UK visitors and the many millions around the world who are double-jabbed with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“This will leave airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, hotels and the entire travel and tourism infrastructure, which depends upon transatlantic travel, in significant trouble for the foreseeable future.

“Neither the US nor the UK economy can afford this ‘vaccine vacuum’ to continue a day longer, and every day which passes, and transatlantic travel remains off limits, it leaves the Travel & Tourism sector sinking deeper into the red.”

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