A good deal of optimistic news has come out of laboratories in recent weeks. Three Covid-19 vaccines (Oxford, Moderna and Pfizer) have reported efficacy levels between 90 to 95 per cent and vaccinations could begin in Australia as early as January 2021. In light of the reports, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has started laying out plans for how international air travel would kick off into and out of Australia next year.
Speaking on Monday, November 23 on A Current Affair, he stated that air travellers would be required to prove they had been vaccinated against the coronavirus before boarding a Qantas plane into or out of the country. Previously, prime minister Scott Morrison has noted that the vaccine will be made "as mandatory as possible" without explicitly saying whether it could eventually become a legally binding requirement.
Requiring vaccinations for certain viral diseases before travelling to areas in which it is endemic is not unheard of – just take the international proof of vaccination or prophylaxis (ICVP) cards required before travelling to places where yellow fever is a risk, including countries in Africa, Asia and South America. The difference, of course, is that while yellow fever and infections like Japanese encephalitis are geographically specific, Covid is not. Australia is amongst the least impacted countries in the world right now, however major surges in the virus are currently peaking across the US and Europe, which could threaten Australia's suppression efforts if international borders are reopened too soon. Some estimates suggest that international travel from Australia may not be possible until the end of 2021, with some airline industry pundits suggesting that pre-pandemic levels of air travel may not return until 2024 at the earliest.