UK vaccine breakthrough ‘shot in arm’ for travel confidence

News that the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine could be available for use in the UK from next week is expected to boost consumer confidence in travel.

Approval of the vaccine, with 800,000 doses initially available next week, followed “an extremely thorough and scientifically rigorous review of all the evidence of safety, of effectiveness and of quality,” according to Dr June Raine, chief executive of British regulator the MHRA.

However, the “bulk” of the vaccines will be available in the new year, potentially coinciding with the peak post-Christmas booking period.

The UK has already ordered 40 million doses of the jab, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19. This is enough to vaccinate 20 million people, and will see immunisations for 800,000 vulnerable people start next week.

Pablo Caspers, chief travel officer at Europen OTA eDreams ODIGEO, said: “The breakthroughs in vaccine development is promising, especially the latest news from the UK that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will start to be used in the most vulnerable as early next week.

“Vaccine development is acting as a shot in the arm for consumer confidence; when the positive news was first announced we registered a jump in searches of 22% in the UK.”

He aded: “Overall, we’re seeing European travellers favour long-haul, luxurious destinations in their searches following positive updates on immunisations, with the likes of Male, Cancun and New York featuring in the top 10 most searched locations.

“Today’s announcement will further boost consumer confidence, we could see a last minute rush for winter breaks and we can expect this optimism to spill into interest for travel in 2021.”

Shon Alam, founder of currency exchange platform Bidwedge, said: “This morning’s announcement is undoubtedly the biggest news to impact the travel industry since the start of this pandemic.

“Over the past few weeks, the news of successful vaccine trials were already boosting confidence that the travel sector is recovering, shown by the rise in stock prices of EasyJet, and owner of British Airways, IAG.

“Now, the announcement that the British public can begin receiving immunisations within a matter of days, will absolutely provide a huge surge of confidence that the travel industry is definitely on its way to recovery.

“For travellers too, many of whom have been eagerly awaiting the moment that it is safe for them to travel again, this will provide the assurance they need to begin planning their trips abroad. Hopefully, this news signals that we are returning to some semblance of normality, and that we can confine 2020 to the history books.”

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