America should drop its requirement for all arrivals to present a negative Covid test, a travel boss said Thursday — as cases surge 54 percent in two weeks and a top scientist says the youngest children should only get one jab.
Glenn Fogel, who oversees Booking.com, warned many travelers — especially Europeans — were opting to take their vacations elsewhere this year, harming American businesses.
The US still requires vaccinated travelers to present a negative Covid test result upon arrival, taken within the previous 24 hours. Those who have not got the vaccine are currently denied entry.
It is increasingly becoming an outlier among western nations, with many including the UK, France and Germany having already dropped their test requirement for arrivals.
Covid cases in the US have ticked up by half over the previous two weeks on average, with another 105,215 recorded by states, departments and local health chiefs yesterday alone.
New York City today became the first area to warn it would bring back face masks and proof of vaccination requirements for restaurants, bars and other indoor spaces if cases continued to rise.
Deaths across the country more than doubled on 14 days ago, with another 1,929 recorded. But the uptick is likely due to several states reporting several days of fatalities, with the U.S. still registering 560 deaths a day on average — similar to early last month. The number of patients in hospitals climbed 19 percent in a fortnight, to 17,877.
It comes as chiefs at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mull over approving two doses of Moderna’s Covid vaccine for children less than five years old.
A top vaccine scientist — who asked not to be named — told DailyMail.com they should only approve one dose for the age group because most already have some protection from the virus due to previous infection.
Glenn Fogel, who oversees Booking.com, warned many travelers — especially Europeans — were opting to take their vacations elsewhere this year, harming American businesses (pictured today on CNBC Squawkbox)
Covid cases in the US ticked up by half over the previous two weeks yesterday on average. Yesterday another 105,215 infections were recorded by states, departments and local health chiefs.
The above map highlights the states where Covid cases are continuing to rise compared to two weeks ago. Only four are still recording a drop in cases
The above shows the number of deaths being recorded in the US every day. These are ticking up with almost 2,000 registered yesterday, although the surge is likely due to some states reporting several days worth of data
The Federal Government has been coming under growing pressure to drop its Covid testing rule for travelers, with several airline bosses and some scientists arguing the rule should be scrapped.
They argued that the prevalence of Covid across all 50 states, the high levels of immunity and high vaccination rates meant it was no longer needed.
Earlier last month bosses at US airline Delta hinted that Washington was planning to scrap the rules in ‘the next few weeks’, however there is yet to be any indication this is the plan from Washington.
Russia has faced 130,000 more excess deaths during the pandemic than the U.S., WHO says
Russia has recorded 130,000 more excess deaths than the U.S. over the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to top officials at the World Health Organization.
Excess deaths are the number of fatalities from all-causes — including Covid — recorded that are above those expected for a particular time of year.
WHO chiefs analyzed official data from every country to establish which had suffered the biggest disease burden.
Overall, they estimated up to 16.6million more people than expected had died during the pandemic — three times the official Covid death toll.
In Russia, they said 1.07million people had died from causes including Covid by December 2021.
For comparison, in the U.S. there were 930,000 more fatalities than were expected.
By this time the U.S. had recorded 824,000 Covid fatalities, while Russia had declared 302,000 — or barely a third of the total deaths estimated.
America is expected to cross the grim threshold of a million Covid deaths in the coming weeks — officially the most out of any country in the world.
But it is likely many other nations — including India — have faced more deaths due to the virus, but that a lack of testing has left many infections undiagnosed.
Calling on them to drop the testing requirement, Fogel told CNBC’s SquawkBox: ‘I really wish the U.S. would eliminate the restriction that requires people who are entering the U.S.
‘[Currently] you have to take a test a full day before you get on the plane and come to the U.S. I think that’s hurting the U.S. travel industry.
‘We have people in Europe, for example, who say well I’m not going to go to the U.S. I’m going to go somewhere else.
‘These people could come and visit the U.S. and I really hope the administration would look at this and say “is this really the best thing to do?”.’
The U.S. has not lifted its Covid test requirement since it was imposed more than a year ago.
But it has quickly become a money-making racket for testing companies, which often charge well over the odds to rapidly turn around swabs.
The travel sector lost more than $220billion in 2020 amid lockdowns and as millions of would-be tourists were forced to stay at home.
It is not yet clear how much was lost in 2021, although it is still expected to be in the billions.
Travel industry bosses warn that continuing restrictions are harming bookings, further damaging their businesses.
It comes as America is now recording about 65,000 cases a day on average, the most since late February in the dying days of the Omicron wave.
The surge is being driven by an even more infectious version of Omicron — scientifically named BA.2.12.1 — which studies suggest is about 25 percent better at transmitting than the original Omicron.
But there is no evidence yet that anyone who catches the disease is more likely to face severe disease or die from the infection.
Rhode Island is currently the nation’s Covid capital, with an infection rate at 53 cases per 100,000 people.
It is followed by Maine (also 53), Vermont (52) and Massachusetts (43).
New York has the sixth biggest outbreak in the country, at about 40 cases per 100,000, but officials in the state’s main city warned Thursday that more Covid restrictions could be imposed if cases continue to rise.
Earlier this week the city shifted from a ‘low’ to ‘medium’ alert level over rising Covid cases and hospitalizations.
This triggered no rule changes, but health officials warned that should the hospitalization rate rise to 10 Covid patients per 100,000 people of if 10 percent of beds were being taken up by Covid patients then they would be forced to trigger the ‘high’ alert level. It is currently at three per 100,000, and five percent.
Under the high alert, face masks will again be required and proof of vaccination will need to be shown to enter bars, clubs and restaurants across the city.
Health commissioner Ashwin Vasan said Thursday: ‘It is clear that if we moved into a high risk and high alert environment, we’d be seriously considering bringing those mandates back.’
It comes as the FDA considers rolling out Covid vaccines to the youngest children — under five years old — to protect them against the virus.
But a top vaccine adviser — who asked not to be named — told DailyMail.com Thursday that if the jabs are approved, they should only be offered one dose.
They said: ‘In light of the CDC reporting that three quarters of children have already been infected with Covid, that should give a bit of pause for thought.
‘There is actually very good data from a lot of different sources that a person who has had a Covid infection and then receives a first dose from an mRNA vaccine, their response to that first dose looks a lot like the response to a second dose.
‘For children who are at high risk of severe disease, it may be reasonable to give them two doses, but for most kids I am not convinced they have to get the same vaccine regimen.’
Many scientists have raised concerns over vaccinating the youngest children, pointing out that they are at a vanishingly small risk of death or serious disease from the virus.
A total of 1,017 dying from Covid since March 2020, official data shows — accounting for around 0.01 per cent of America’s almost a million deaths from the virus.
For comparison, among people aged 65 and over the death toll is 724million.
There are also fears over myocarditis, a form of heart inflammation detected in about one in 20,000 boys following vaccination. Girls are less at risk from the complication.
While in most cases the condition is mild, scientists are not yet sure of the long-term effects.