Don’t Expect Joe Biden’s Travel Ban To Save America From the Omicron Variant

Belated but oddly targeted U.S. bans on international travel created an appearance that something was being done, even though it didn’t have much impact on disease transmission. While the Biden Administration’s reaction to the omicron variant was much faster, it is still unlikely that it will be as effective.

South Africa’s government provided information on Wednesday regarding the omicron version of coronavirus. This variant has mutations which suggest that it might be more contagious then the delta variant. Although it’s not certain if this is true, it remains to be confirmed. Also, it is unclear whether it will cause more severe symptoms or if vaccination is effective against the virus in the prevention or treatment of death.

The news about the omicron variant was announced by President Joe Biden two days later. He issued a ban for visitors from South Africa, seven African countries, including Botswana and Eswatini. Noncitizens not physically present in these countries within the last 14 days, will be barred from entry into the United States. To determine if the suspension is appropriate, it will be reviewed on a monthly base.

It took effect only this morning. This first hint suggests that the policy was symbolic and not substantive. According to the Travel Ban, it won’t begin until Monday. It is as though the virus has taken the weekend off. New York TimesZeynep Tifekci, columnist, noted yesterday. It’s “pandemic theatrics,” not public health.

Biden’s proclamation is not applicable to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. This, too, makes it difficult for public health to justify. Biden does not consider anyone who spent time in countries that could be affected by the omicron virus to have become a carrier. And if the risk can be managed through measures short of barring entry—such as testing and, where appropriate, isolation—why not apply those safeguards uniformly?

Biden’s proclamation doesn’t address the screening of travellers, even though existing PCR tests are able to distinguish between omicron variants. According to current rules, travelers who visit the United States without being fullyvaccinated need to show a negative result of a virus test taken less than 24 hours before travel. The sample may be collected up to 3 days prior to departure for fully-vaccinated travelers.

Biden’s geographical scope is also questionable as COVID-19 cases related to the omicron variant were identified elsewhere, including Australia and Belgium. Hugo de Jonge, Dutch health minister, told reporters that “this could possibly just be the tip off the iceberg.” NPR notes that “one of the identified cases of the omicron variant in Belgium had no contact or travel with any nations in southern Africa, suggesting community spread could already be taking place.”

It is beginning to look like the return of events from the start of the pandemic when travel restrictions were imposed by many countries after coronavirus was already spreading in the region. According to modeling by researchers at Northeastern University, for instance, New York City may have had more than 10,000 COVID-19 infections by March 1, 2020, seeded primarily by European travelers. This was just 10 days after then-President Donald Trump issued travel restrictions from Europe. It is possible that Biden’s response, though faster than usual, won’t be enough or too late to make an impact, especially if the Omicron variant proves to be as contagious and spreads like scientists believe.

“There’s very little utility [from]”These kinds of bans,” Saad Omer, director of Yale Institute of Global Health told NPR. The Yale Institute of Global Health director Saad Omer told NPR that if the [aim]To stop this variant from getting in, it doesn’t make any sense to exclude countries where it is already known and that has been exempted. [have] even more direct flights than southern Africa….Unfortunately, from what we know about the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 and the epidemiology of this variant, the horse has probably left the barn.”

Japan, Israel, and Morocco all banned foreigners in response to this new version. Morocco has a two week ban that includes citizens. The other two countries have a ban that excludes foreign nationals. Unvaccinated Israelis must self-quarantine seven days.” The New York TimesAccording to reports, “returning vaccine-vaccinated Israelis” will be tested on landing. They must then self-quarantine for 3 days to await the results of another P.C.R. test.” Others ban travelers from particular countries. Australia claimed it delayed a plan for international students and skilled migrants to be admitted back into Australia.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), such restrictions can cause greater harm than good. Matshidiso Moeti from WHO, the regional director for Africa said yesterday that while travel restrictions might help reduce COVID-19’s spread, they also place heavy financial burdens on peoples lives and livelihoods. If restrictions are to be implemented they shouldn’t be unnecessary invasive, intrusive or excessively costly. They must also be scientifically justified.

There have been mixed results in studies on whether international travel restrictions can be effective in stopping the spread COVID-19, and other contagious disease.

An article published by The Journal of Emergency ManagementEarly 2020 showed “minimal evidence” of travel bans reducing the spread Ebola and Middle Eastern respiratory Syndrome, SARS, Zika, and Ebola. They stressed the need to conduct more research in order to make policy choices about travel bans or other measures.

Published in April 2020: ScienceIt was discovered that the “travel quarantine” of Wuhan had only delayed the spread of the epidemic by just 3 to 5 day in mainland China. The researchers modelled that the quarantine had a greater effect on international scales, with case importations falling by almost 80% between mid-February and mid-February. The study showed that the effects of quarantine were not lasting and that there was no significant increase in travel to or from China.

The authors stated that the model showed that the Wuhan travel ban had initially been effective in reducing imports of international cases. However, imported cases from outside China continue to rise after about 2 or 3 weeks. The modeling study also showed that travel restrictions (up to 90%) can only have a small effect when combined with behavioral and public health measures that could reduce disease transmission.

An 2021 systematic review 26 studies BMJ Global HealthThere was “high agreement” that China’s domestic travel bans “led to significant changes in the dynamics during the initial phases of COVID-19.” Based on thirteen studies, the authors found that the restriction on flying to China could have resulted in additional export reductions.

The 2021 Agenda BMC Public Health study based on data from Hong Kong concluded that “complete border closure”—a far cry from the current U.S. policy, but similar to what Morocco is now doing—”remained an effective measure” to reduce cases and deaths “even in the presence of established local transmission.” A second study was published in this journal on Australia. Australia closed its borders on March 20, 2020 to nonresidents. Researchers concluded that while travel bans did reduce COVID-19 exports overall, their effectiveness in reducing importations by individual countries varied. This is due to the behaviour of returning citizens and residents.