Dr. Anthony Fauci told Meet the Press on NBC News on Sunday that a vaccine passport for domestic U.S. travel is “still on the table” and that the Biden administration considers policies including vaccine passports “literally on a daily basis”.
“Well, the team has a lot of things on the table, nothing has been taken off the table. That decision has not been made,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the administration’s top pandemic advisors told NBC’s Chuck Todd.
Last week, Fauci came out in support of domestic vaccine passports for air travel alongside the possibility of pre-travel COVID-19 testing for domestic travel. Both ideas have been roundly rejected by the U.S. travel industry who fear the policies would decimate demand.
But while Fauci is a supporter of vaccine passports and is keen to keep the policy under debate, White House sources claim the idea isn’t under serious consideration and is unlikely to ever face the light of day.
President Biden previously considered a pre-travel testing policy but this was quickly shelved following a fierce backlash. One of the biggest challenges for vaccine passports is that the Biden administration has refused to create a centralized vaccination register making it difficult, although not impossible, to quickly verify someone’s vaccination status.
Airlines and the wider travel industry have thrown their full support behind the federal face mask mandate, arguing that universal masking means pre-travel testing and banning non-vaccinated people from travel isn’t necessary because the risk of infection is already so low.
Both Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian and United’s Scott Kirby have publicly stated that they don’t believe vaccine passports will be introduced for domestic air travel.
Both leaders have, however, supported vaccine passports for international travel in the hope that this would significantly reopen travel.
A senior White House officials told Reuters last week that the administration was still working on a “new system for international travel” which will include a vaccination requirement, alongside pre-travel testing and a new contract tracing system.
The COVID-19 task force has been working on the policy for months but nothing is expected to be implemented until the delta driven fourth wave subsides. Reuters reports that travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico, as well as Europe’s Schengen zone, Ireland and the UK might not be lifted until 2022.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.