COVID-19

US plans to open borders to vaccinated travelers

WAshington is developing “a phased approach that will mean, with a few exceptions, that all foreign nationals arriving in the United States – from all countries – must be fully vaccinated,” the source said without giving a timetable.

Working groups dealing with this issue “are developing policies to be ready when the time comes to move to this new system,” the official said.

The tone is very cautious, but nonetheless, this is an event for the United States, which, as of July 26, did not want to hear about tests or vaccines to reopen their borders.

Travelers from Europe, India, Brazil, or China are currently not allowed to enter the United States unless there are special compelling reasons.

Calls for reciprocity

Until now, Washington has remained deaf to calls for reciprocity, in particular from Europeans.

Although the countries of the European Union have decided to reopen their borders to Americans on the condition that they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested negative, travelers from the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Ireland have been unable to enter the United States since March 2020.

Contrary to Washington’s planned resumption of traffic, Beijing has announced tightening travel restrictions for its citizens overseas as China faces a renewed epidemic on its soil.

The White House also rejected on Wednesday a call from WHO for a moratorium on the recall of COVID-19 vaccines, believing the United States “does not have to” choose between administering them to its families, citizens, or donating them to poor countries.

“This is a bogus alternative,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said of the World Health Organization’s request.

“We think we can do both,” and “we don’t have to choose” between reminding Americans what is not yet officially planned or helping poor countries.

She recalled that the United States has already distributed more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to less privileged countries, which, according to Washington, is more than donations from all other countries in the world combined.

Gaping inequality

On Wednesday, the WHO called for the withdrawal operations to be abandoned until at least the end of September in an attempt to redress existing inequalities between rich and poor countries.

“We urgently need to change the situation, from most vaccines destined for rich countries to most sent to poor countries,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding that the moratorium should last “at least until the end of September”. …

The head of the UN agency has been condemning the inequality in vaccines for months. Of the 4 billion such doses administered worldwide, 80% went to high- and upper-middle-income countries, while they represent less than 50% of the world’s population.

The European Commission announced that it has entered into a contract with US pharmaceutical company Novavax for the early procurement of 200 million doses of its vaccine after it is approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Under the Novavax contract, Member States will be able to purchase up to 100 million doses of Novavax vaccine with the option to purchase an additional 100 million doses during 2021, 2022 and 2023 after the vaccine is released. Reviewed and approved by the EMA as safe and effective.

Member States will also be able to donate vaccines to low- and middle-income countries or redirect them to other European countries.

In the United Kingdom, the government announced on Wednesday that it would lift quarantines from Sunday on vaccinated travelers arriving in England from mainland France, a measure that Paris has denounced as “discriminatory.”

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