“Travelers should consider their own safety, that of the place they’re visiting and their community when they return home.”

Last April, we published a report about the advantages and problems of the vaccine passport (read HERE). Now, The Washington Post has published an article about the travel ethics of vaccinated persons, sharing the perspectives of ethicists, medical experts, and tourism professionals.

This July, the holidays will coincide with a significant increase in the percentage of the population vaccinated, which differs significantly from country to country and from region to region. A key issue, however, is what we said in our aforementioned article: “The difference between a certificate of vaccination and a certificate of immunity, […] These concepts are not superimposable, since, at present, the level of immunity achieved with the different vaccines and their effectiveness against the different strains of SARS-CoV2 has not been fully determined (read HERE).”

Based on this evidence, we report some aspects of the different expert opinions published in the Washington Post. The ethics of traveling is focused on balancing the risks and benefits between the economic advantages of reactivating the tourism industry — vital for some countries and regions — and the risks of traveling when immunization appears to be a long way off in most countries.

The present situation is that after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people can travel with less risk, many people are making trips or planning them, either in the US or different developed countries. The first impression is that it is an important step to get out of the overwhelming situation created by the lockdown with its numerous restrictions affecting the rights of people. However, several bioethicists do not appear to agree.

Ethics of traveling: Comply with current coronavirus regulations wherever you are

The Washington Post quotes renowned bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan, who “doesn’t believe tourism revenue is impactful enough to offset the threat of variants derailing global pandemic progress or the risk of harming local communities”. Nothing was mentioned about the recovery of people’s rights lost in the lockdown. In our opinion, Caplan is underestimating the economic factors in several countries and regions. Another bioethics expert, Nancy S. Jecker says “Vaccinated travelers can defer to their best judgment — not every scenario comes with the same ethical dilemmas. For example, if you’re going from a low-risk area to a low-risk vacation destination, the stakes aren’t as high as traveling from a high-risk area to a vulnerable area. No matter where you’re traveling, following coronavirus precautions is the ethical thing to do”. In this respect Henry Wu, an associate professor of infectious diseases and director of Emory TravelWell Center said that travelers should consider their own safety, that of the place they’re visiting and their community when they return home.

From a bioethical perspective, the available evidence on the efficacy of vaccines against the different variants should be updated on a regular basis, and the population must also be sufficiently informed to assess the risk that the movement of people entails.



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