Vaccine passports are here—why are borders still closed?
Experts debate the pros and cons of basing travel rights on COVID immunity.
Fabio. I'm curious in terms of uh globally crafting these vaccine standards that it's come to the W. H. O. And they've been sort of drafting standards while it's also been mentioned by like the G. You are the G seven uh, EU and other bodies. Where are we at in terms of uh drafting some global vaccine passport standard. So I mean we are not too far from block zero. I mean that's the reality. Uh, probably we we are way better ahead with the vaccination itself than the ability to prove the vaccination for for for for the purpose of the traveling. Um, so what we foresee uh is that this will develop in through economic economic hubs. So europe will develop something and then the economic surroundings of europe will adopt this because of the economic power of europe. So this will be logical for the business to adopt this for the best. So it will be driven by the business now, the slower moving wheeled, the government. And unfortunately this is opening A new wave of 1-1 too many. If you look from the perspective of one government, if you look the world is a many to many, so 200-200. So that's a very big number of potential agreements that needs to be in place to mutually recognize. Uh this whatever standards will be adopted now it looks uh it took decades for for the whole visa and visa exemption and visa on entry and s to be standardized so that a piece of paper like our passport is being record is being accepted. I don't expect it will last so long, but if we look the progress at the moment is very little. They, so the problem is complex itself and then it's further complicated, I think by um by the by the political agenda that somewhere is popping up in the country. So there are uh there are social or political agendas that are driving for more integration, more safety versus openness versus other areas. So this is creating also a different appetite for these bilateral agreements to be in place. Or the threshold is different in these, in different countries. I agree. What fabulous just described in terms of some of the hubs will most likely to drive. But I would also argue that in addition to the nation states, um you know, there's another layer of the reality of our digital lives today, which is the digital state. Um the digital state means um you know, the the users of large tech companies that overly that don't fall into the natural, you know, borders of different countries. Um so with the Apple's announcement, uh you know, adopting uh smart health cards and I think it will mean that uh my health card compatible will become very important standards um for every country. And I think right now, you know, every country still um you know, to next point there is trust there still considering um but often to focus on the front end in terms of which act they should use. Right? But if we approach this as uh the world really needs this kind of public destroyed infrastructure and probably good, then, um I think sensible governments will start to see, okay if Apple is using smart health card, how many Apple users? Um, you know, iphone users in our country, Right? And that will become for sure, one standard that you cannot ignore. So I think with a combination of nation states and digital stage is what I see. Um you know, how the standard will will evolve. Um that's why we and the Communist project, you know, we punch above our weight. Um, you know, we we we could not wait for somebody, somebody else to set a standard. So we've been working very hard with Microsoft and Mayor clinic etcetera to develop and promote my health card and the standards because we know if we just do the ap provide the world, how many ask do you have to build? Right, You have to, you have to provide the true ecosystem and digital infrastructure. So even if there are multiple solutions out there, the multiple solutions can talk to each other and reduce all the hassles for end users have you is point though, uh if that's great that everybody would have this information on the phone, but unless another country is willing to accept that information, it doesn't matter what we've done and that's that is the long whole impact. It is this mutual recognition between countries that gates design. It's not technology, it's not standards, it is that piece that's missing and and that takes time and we hope it happens faster. But we we right now technology was the only reason we were flying over it. Like when you look at aviation there's other things I don't say beyond aviation but my responsibility this is his airlines and international travel can resume. Its technology was the only thing standing to claim we see and we serve multiple actors around the ecosystem that will need to align because you have the airports, the government, the security agencies let alone the labs, the farmers and they are lying in the middle because they are they broker or the messengers in all the complexity. Um, so to to answer this discussion what I would I hope it will happen. It will to start simple I would guess that the more we can keep it simple meaning having just the vaccine, the vaccination data which batch it leads and when it happened uh and and maybe some tests which again is if you are vaccinated they become becomes less. Uh let's critical to some extent. Then the threshold of acceptance or the appetites to accept the digital standard bilaterally between countries will will be will be faster, interesting. Nick. I'm just curious. Building off of that is like what Fabulous said in terms of it all start bilaterally. Do you see certain parts of the world sort of opening up global travel quicker than other parts? Um you know before in Asia were maybe more optimistic six months ago that we might be traveling by now. Um But now it seems like europe or something be moving into faster. Where do you see travel sort of restarting? You're nervous is we've already seen travel in europe. Your acts somewhat like a domestic market in a way depending on from what country to another and not referring to the E. U. Is domestic. But we are seeing international travel so to speak within the Eu. Um North America is won't be far behind. Uh It's a question of ironing out some of these details that both favorable and jim had just spoken about. How does that work out how to how to governments feel comfortable in the US? How do we make sure that uh individuals in the U. S. Are not disenfranchised when they travel because the very digital uh stuff we're talking about does not exist in most states. Like they do I'm in Canada. I do have an electronic version of my uh the minute I got my first jazz and other countries have done that already. But not every country is done that and fabulous or not, everybody's ready sheriff. So you know, but you know, back to your question. Yeah, New york will be first North America. Is there the domestic market? North America saw as strong as ever as it's ever been. Uh, latin America and South America. And you guys are probably last. Unfortunately, it seems that the conservative nature of uh, of Asia as strong as true colors and for good reason we're not political organization where you are also and not the proper organization as well. And we're not into why governments making decisions are making, we just want to be ready when they do make the decisions start flying again. And so I think that's the order. Okay. We also, uh, as suggested that it will be, it will be sort of vacation and travel, family, family travel begin with. That's what we're going to see. And there's a lot of pent up demand for that. And then business travel that remains to be seen how we found after all this. Because look what we're doing now. Uh, when was the last time you had a face to face event? Things have changed and that that that will change the way we do. You mean I travel as much as we did business wise in the future. Maybe we all go back to the way we were. I don't know, but we certainly know that that's going to take some a little bit longer than going to see mom and dad are going to the beach somewhere. That's interesting. Yeah, that we might not go exactly back to our old have this. But I do think one of the concerns now that Nicolas, not to mention that places like europe, the U. S. Will be opening up quicker. They're also wealthier places that have had more access to vaccines supplies. And um like the, I think the head of the W. H. O. Said yesterday that like I think 44% of the global vaccine supplies have been taken by wealthier countries in the lowest income countries have had zero. I guess Jennifer. I'm here's how how is the common path kind of addressing these concerns that vaccine passports or these platforms might be uh, exacerbating inequality. Yeah, that's why we cannot uh to be honest, because most of the vaccine distribution is conducted by Nation US is a little bit different, right? Us is distributed by walmart walgreen, which we work with them as well. But uh for example, here in Hong kong and Singapore, Australia, Canada et cetera. The vaccine distribution done by the government. So for us to ingest um you know, talking to one party to ingest the vaccine records, it's much easier process than, you know, you have to work with multiple labs in different countries. Um you know, we're talking about thousands of lax right? However, we cannot give up on the testing um you know, capability in in um uh common past because uh because uh you know, probably most people don't know about this, but common past. First started in East Africa, we use common path for truck drivers to cross borders. Right? And I think the vaccine, global vaccine distribution, especially vaccine distribution to the global self um is particularly problematic. Kind of a lot of really interesting points there. And I I guess one of the things I'm interested in nick, I know you're also working on the sort of uh cargo side of the vaccine distribution. And so are you seeing uh sort of do you think the amount of deliveries will be drastically different in the second half of uh this year in terms of maybe equalizing some of the vaccine access globally? Well, you know, I'm UNICEF, we worked with UNICEF kovacs and Welch Health Organization that you know, we've been focused on the on the procedural side of things. There was a lot of concerns around the supply chain and how especially the cold chain aspects of moving this set these vaccines around the world in particular in places in problem in nations like Africa and where we know doing challenge. And so we've run behind version fi uh only real guidance material in terms of how to move this stuff around. So a lot of our focuses in on not so much the geopolitical issues of which countries have been buying it and who's supplying it more about when we do get to the point of moving it out people safely to make sure that we don't lose it. Because that would be that would be really really really really sad. It's something like if we if we were ready to move the stuff around. Unfortunately we've not seen that many issues in terms of the movement of the vaccine from one country to another. We are seeing it ramping up. Uh Certainly our cargo supply chain is very busy. But the only area in the industry That we've actually can promote and today became an illustrated were 12% so evolved now at 29 G. Mountains. So it's growing part of that is prayer service for sure. It's a large first portion of it. Um should it be to be doing more? Of course right. We don't believe that we all know that too. And so but we also know that the US is needed. You have an indirect 52%. Uh Canada. Now I think it's about coast 70% 1st jab for 40 years old over the U. K. Is at a certain point. So it's just natural that once these countries reached this point, whether it's right or wrong, they will be in a position to share more than they were in the past.