Travel is to blame

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has published the results of some research which seem to confirm that we are responsible for the spread of coronavirus.

empty deckchair
Research from the University of Aberdeen suggests that stoping international travel in a future pandemic would be the right action to take. Image © Dan Sperrin

By “we” I mean the international traveller and holidaymaker.

Last October, I called for an independent study when Professor McKee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine posited that holidaymakers were – to some extent – responsible for the spread of coronavirus.

Here now is the first study that seems to confirm his thoughts. It comes from nine members of the Institute of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Aberdeen

The article, Country-level determinants of the severity of the first global wave of the COVID-19 pandemic: an ecological study, looks at just the first wave of the virus but surely any future research would also suggest that subsequent waves were also connected to international travel.

The study looked at thirty-seven countries and concluded that “international travel was directly associated with the mortality slope and thus potentially the spread of COVID-19.”

It also says that consideration should be given by nations to impose restrictions on travel as early as possible in order to stem the spread of the virus. That is something most nations failed to do. Indeed some called on travel to continue and, initially, both the WHO and WTTC were proponents of that despite the fact – as the article points out – the WHO proposed travel restrictions to curb an earlier pandemic.

IATA issued research suggesting that contracting the virus on a plane was minimal. But IATA members transported the people who spread the virus just as cruise ships seem to have done.

For the travel industry this is not good news. For holidaymakers and travellers it isn’t good news either.

But for the rest of the population and for industry it could be very good news because restricting international travel might protect the general populace from the two plus million deaths that migt otherwise occur in another pandemic.

It would seem that this study should alert the industry and us that we will not be able to travel if another pandemic occurs. And occur it probably will since one seems to show up in almost every century.

What can we do to minimise the threat to international travel?

That is something that the industry should plan and develop risk assessemnts otherwise – based on this research – the answer is a complete stop to international travel as soon as possible as a pandemic develops its first shoots.

That is what New Zealand did and could be why New Zealand has been so successful in minimising the mortality impact on its residents.

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