Most major airlines already want to vaccinate their employees. Support for the government’s vaccine mandate is now growing for airline passengers. But could this public health intervention cost more lives than save?
Sen last week. This bill requires all passengers on a flight departing or landing from a U.S. airport to show proof of ticker, negative Covid-1 test or previous infection before boarding.
“We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to the growth of the devastating Covid-1 sur last winter. We just can’t let it happen again,” Feinstein said in a news release. “Ensuring that air passengers protect themselves and their destination communities from this disease to prevent further travel.”
Members of the Biden administration also support the idea.
“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with others you should be vaccinated,” said Anthony Fawcett, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, last month. Jeff Giants, coordinator of the White House Covid Response Team, says the administration has not revoked the vaccine order for air travelers. USA Today.
Feinstein’s bill, which creates for negative covid test and previous infections, makes it more flexible than the vaccine orders that governments are imposing on bars, restaurants and concert venues. Yet the proposed law would go beyond the requirements of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) which requires all passengers to wear masks throughout their flight.
The law would effectively create a federal vaccine passport so that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration, could establish a single nationwide system to verify passengers’ vaccination status. It raises some serious civil liberties concerns. This will automatically exclude 35 percent of the eligible population who are not vaccinated from all air travel. A centralized system can be easily extended to exclude unplanned transport from other means.
It is also not clear that such orders will do much for public safety as the risk of covid infection on the flight is low. An article published in October 2020 detailed that low risk Journal of the American Medical Association. Cabin Air, the authors of the article think, is recycled through a HEPA filter that filters out virus particles. They say the way air flows inside the cabin থেকে from the ceiling to the floor, with little flow between rows ও also reduces the difficulty of covid transmission in flight.
“The cabin of an aircraft is probably one of the safest conditions,” said Sebastian Hohel, a researcher at the Institute for Medical Virology at the University of Goethe in Frankfurt, Germany. Scientific American In November 2020.
A The Wall Street Journal A review of the medical literature published last week found that the risk of infection is still generally considered low, although it does increase during long flight meals (when everyone removes their masks at once) and during planning and planning.
Feinstein’s press release cited several studies and surveys to support his mandate proposal. Among them was a study published last year PNAS, The Journal of the National Academy of Sciences, which showed that increased travel between states and counties increased covid infections among destination communities, and a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that one-third were resistant to vaccines if they needed to travel by air. Senator Mayo cited a study from the clinic that examining airline passengers would be an effective means of detecting active infections.
This first study, it is important to note, generally focuses on the impact of travel on covid infection rates, especially not by air travel. Meanwhile, Kaiser’s survey showed that the same number of vaccine-hesitant people could be persuaded to get jabs if it means they don’t have to wear masks while traveling.
A proponent of the Vaccine Mandate could well argue that although airplanes are not a high-infection environment, passengers can be made safer by vaccinating them or showing them negative tests.
That’s true. Nevertheless, testing or vaccination on the plane will prevent some people from boarding the entire flight, making them choose a more dangerous alternative to driving. This would mean more auto accidents and more deaths as a result of which we could get any safety benefit by reducing the already low risk of covid infection in the aircraft.
TSA serves as a good parallel to security. The added hassle of adding a company to air travel encourages people to replace driving for flying, resulting in an estimated 500 additional auto deaths each year after 9/11. Preventing TSA security screening has almost certainly surpassed terrorist deaths.
Aircraft are one of the least risky interior spaces during the COVID-19 epidemic. The added safety through the obligation to vaccinate and / or test passengers is probably minimal and even predictable by the second-order effect of encouraging more driving instead of aircraft.
The benefits of Feinstein’s Vaccine Mandate Bill must also be weighed against the cost of civil liberties in creating a federal vaccine passport system that can be applied over time rather than just air travel.
Airlines should vaccinate their passengers. The Kaiser poll, cited by the senator, suggests that other, voluntary ways to encourage vaccination would be just as effective. This seems to be a superior alternative to a politically corrosive, perhaps counter-productive government order.