Travel insurers: COVID-19 jab may become mandatory for Europe trip
Some European travel insurers warned that while COVID-19 vaccination is not currently needed to purchase a travel insurance policy for visiting European Union, it will become mandatory if the EU chooses to require the coronavirus shots for all incoming visitors.
According to EU insurer Europ Assistance, the firm would be far from the only travel insurer to require customers to get an experimental vaccine, which only received its emergency use authorization last week for the EU – a vow that has unsettled those who haven’t made up their mind about taking a jab.
French insurance provider AXA warned that “if customers haven’t been inoculated, they will not be covered” for travel to EU countries that mandate vaccination.
However, they stressed the decision was ultimately up to European regulators. “If there is no requirement from the entering country, we cannot enforce that people have had the vaccine,” a spokesperson told the International Travel and Health Insurance Journal on Monday. The Pfizer-BioNTech jab became the first Covid-19 vaccine to receive emergency use authorization for Europe just last week.
As far back as April, SchengenVisaInfo was warning that “once the risks from the pandemic are reduced… member states will start asking for additional documents” regarding travelers’ health in order to enter the EU. That initially referred to proof of a negative Covid-19 test, with the possibility of a vaccine still hovering in the uncertain future. However, the media has admitted testing methods aren’t nearly as accurate as they were initially portrayed, all while pumping up the multiple experimental vaccines hitting the market with promises of 95 percent success rates.
Global air travel organizations like IATA have revealed they are hard at work on a “Travel Pass” app that will track travelers’ vaccination status across borders, and airlines like Australia’s Qantas and the Philippines’ Cebu Pacific have already declared they will require proof of vaccination for passengers on international flights.
The World Economic Forum and the Rockefeller Foundation have already begun testing of their own “CommonPass” health passport, which seems to have the backing of airline trade groups like Oneworld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam.
However, privacy advocates and even some travel industry lobbyists have warned that vaccine passports would spell the death of both civil liberties and the tourism industry. World Travel and Tourism Council lobbyist Gloria Guevara recently warned that if governments begin requiring vaccination for international travel, it will “kill their sector” – which has already suffered a $3.8 trillion financial blow due to countries closing down their borders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
EU health officials initially criticized the UK’s rush to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 jab, vowing they would wait until December 29 to decide whether to authorize it on an emergency basis. However, the European Medicines Agency advanced the date, supposedly after receiving “additional data” from the vaccine producer – and heaps of criticism from member governments like Germany that insisted they be allowed to “start vaccinating this year.”
The EMA and the European Commission subsequently sped up their evaluation timetable, approving the jab last week. France’s health regulator followed suit days later while praising the jab’s “efficacy and its satisfactory tolerance profile” even in elderly patients.