White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr Anthony Fauci has predicted that Brits who received the AstraZeneca vaccine will be allowed into the US under new travel rules announced yesterday.
But he was unable to say for certain that would be the case, stressing the final decision rests with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC has yet to approve AZ as a vaccine for US citizens.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 this morning, Dr Fauci said the situation regarding AZ, and whether it will be recognised by the US, ‘needs to be worked out’.
“But I would imagine it would be, depending on the data that comes in,” he said. “Right now….I don’t believe there is any reason to believe that people who have received the AZ vaccine should feel there is going to be any problem.
“I can’t account for every vaccine that has been approved by the UK. I am not sure about all of them but the specific one about AZ, given that we have a substantial amount of information on the AZ vaccine, again, without being definitive about it, I would predict there would not be a problem there.
“But again, the final decision goes with the CDC.”
While not guaranteed, Dr Fauci’s comments will ease industry concerns that millions of Brits who received the AZ vaccine could remain banned from the US once the overall travel ban lifts in November.
An exact date for the reopening of the border has yet to be confirmed.
Dr Fauci also said children will be exempt from the new rules and will not need to be double vaccinated to enter the US.
Speaking more broadly of the decision to lift the travel ban from the UK, EU and several other nations, Dr Fauci said: “We feel we want to have a uniform policy for all countries and to avoid confusion and to avoid any feeling that one country….is being favoured over another.
“I think that makes things much less complicated and I believe it really is the kind of things that would be acceptable to most countries.”
The industry continued to welcome the development.
Gold Medal Travel said the phones started to ring even before the official announcement.
Managing Director Lisa McAuley said: “This is such exciting news and as soon as the rumour began to circulate on Monday afternoon our phones started to ring with agents enquiring about prices and wanting to make bookings.
“We’re expecting some busy days ahead and will be making sure our teams are prepared.”
She added: “We’ve been waiting a long time for this moment and can now put some great offers live. Although it has stayed one of our top selling destinations throughout the pandemic, we can’t wait to put all our expertise and knowledge to help our agent partners capitalise on the huge demand we know will now be released.”
The move was also welcomed across the Atlantic.
“We are thrilled by the news about our borders reopening to the UK – our top international overseas market,” said Casandra Matej, President and CEO of Visit Orlando. “Knowing there is a huge pent-up demand for Orlando holidays, we are ready to safely welcome back international visitors to experience the exciting new developments that have continued taking place in the theme park capital of the world.”
Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board President and Chief Executive Adam Burke said: “The re-opening of our borders to travellers from the UK and Ireland marks a long awaited and highly important milestone for the recovery of travel to not only Los Angeles but our nation as a whole.
“The UK and Ireland have long been top markets for our city. In 2019 alone, 407,000 visitors from the UK and Ireland came to LA, injecting $539m to our local economy through visitor spending.”