Covac Global Insights - 07/02/2021

As the travel industry makes a comeback, caution is the best defense for a permanent end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Authors - Ross Thompson, David Lloyd 
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Covac Global Insights - 08/13/2021

Variants, vaccines: what to know for travel during the COVID-19 pandemic
Authors - Dr. Marc Burdick and David Lloyd 
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Covac Global Insights - 10/19/2021

The COVAC Global Evacuation: Get Sick, Get home
Authors - Ross Thompson, David Lloyd
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COVID | MEDICAL | SECURITY | REMOTE RESPONSE

Variants, vaccines: what to know for travel during the COVID-19 pandemic

Covac Global Insights

By
Dr. Marc Burdick and
David Lloyd

As vaccines and general fatigue over the COVID-19 pandemic have led to the loosening of restrictions on travel and social distancing, many people are hopeful that the end of the pandemic is in sight.
But the emergence of new variants, more contagious than the original strain, could threaten the progress that has been made, particularly the longer more people remain unvaccinated.
The development of vaccines has given us a tremendous advantage over COVID-19 and allowed many people to return
to a more normal lifestyle. Although the effectiveness of each different vaccine is not fully understood, clinical trials on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines suggest that they are 94% effective at preventing hospitalization due to COVID-19 among adults 65 and older—essentially making the disease considerably less life threatening for the vaccinated. As encouraging as these data are, the occurrence of breakthrough cases among the fully vaccinated demonstrates that vaccines are not a silver bullet in preventing the transmission of symptomatic cases of COVID-19.
In King County Washington, where vaccination rates are some
of the highest in the nation, breakthrough cases among the fully vaccinated are becoming a more common occurrence. Although not all the cases are severe, they suggest that the vaccines’ effectiveness at preventing symptomatic cases is much
lower than previously expected.

Many of these breakthrough cases have been linked to the so-called variants of concern, which are denoted by their names derived from the Greek alphabet. Most of the mutations that make up these new variants have little to no effect on viral function, but some have increased the virus’s transmissibility, severity of symptoms, and resistance to vaccines.
One variant in particular, known as Delta, originating in India, and now becoming the dominant strain in many global regions, has garnered much worry. A study from the United Kingdom has suggested that Delta is more transmissible than previous variants and the original strain, and suggests that Delta is associated with a higher risk of hospitalization. Other studies have suggested that vaccine effectiveness of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine or the AstraZeneca vaccine was high for variants and the original strain, but less so for Delta, and effectiveness against Delta after a single dose of each vaccine was low. If more variants like Delta emerge, perhaps even more resistant to the current vaccines and more transmissible, new outbreaks could threaten much of the progress that has been made thus far in combatting COVID-19.
Part of the reason why variants will continue to emerge lies in the low rates of vaccination across the world. Although many wealthy countries have been able to quickly vaccinate a large percentage of their population, such as the United States’ 49.5% full vaccination rate, most underdeveloped countries are lagging behind.

Globally, 26.3% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but that rate drops to only 1% in underdeveloped countries. Like other viruses, COVID-19 mutates over time. The longer more people remain unvaccinated, the more opportunities the virus has to spread and evolve.
What does this mean for the millions of vaccinated people who are looking to resume travel plans put on hold for a year or more? Because of the increased transmissibility of many of the variants, maintaining reasonably cautious behavior is essential to reduce opportunities for exposure and allow for more time to expand vaccination coverage. Fortunately, many of the COVID vaccines available have been shown to be effective in protecting from serious cases caused by these variants. However, the effectiveness of all the various vaccines against these new variants compared to the original strain is not fully understood. There will be a need for boosters in the near future, and a yearly inoculation against COVID-19, much like influenza, may become the norm.
Smart travel is more important than ever. Travelers should avoid travel to destinations with known outbreaks, be vigilant and have backup plans in case they test positive while travelling. They should consider how they will get home if they test positive and face quarantine outside of their home country.

A COVAC Global membership can help
give travelers the peace of mind that
they need.

Not only does this protect themselves, but it also helps
countries that are less equipped to handle COVID-19
control the spread to vulnerable populations.
Vaccine effectiveness is a cause for celebration, but the
COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and ignoring its lingering
presence could threaten to unravel much of the progress
that has been made.

DR. MARC BURDICK - FAAEM
CO-MEDICAL DIRECTOR

Dr. Marc Burdick oversees and advises medical operations for Covac Global. In addition to this role, Dr. Burdick is the Chief of Emergency Services and Medical Director for a premier emergency department in Seattle, Washington. He is a Board-Certified Emergency Physician and has actively practiced emergency medicine in Seattle for the past 11 years. Dr. Burdick provides direct medical care, COVID 19 management, telemedical support, in addition to medical and security risk analysis. He helps manage complex medical planning and evacuation services to his clients globally on both a private and corporate level. Dr. Burdick has extensive expertise in maritime and aerospace medicine where he is a medical director and advisor for multiple entities during this past decade. Dr. Burdick has traveled and practiced emergency medicine extensively throughout the world and has been a physician on multiple high-profile expeditions.

DAVID LLOYD
OPERATIONS MANAGER

David Lloyd specializes in finding solutions to your travel needs. He brings his experience as a contractor for the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) organizing diplomatic and global development projects in challenging environments. He is passionate about simplifying complex logistical problems to give you peace of mind while you travel in these unprecedented times.
David holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Pepperdine University in California.

Covac Global is
an indemnified evacuation and repatriation service offered through a tiered membership program that — unlike other services — will cover individuals even after they report symptoms of COVID-19 or who test positive for the disease.

777 South Flagler Drive, Suite 800 West Tower, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 24/7 Operations Center : +1.561.418.3435 | members@covacglobal.com

COVID | MEDICAL | SECURITY | REMOTE RESPONSE

As the travel industry makes a comeback,
caution is the best
defense for a permanent end
to the COVID-19
pandemic

Covac Global Insights

By Ross Thompson, David Lloyd
June 30th, 2021

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has been
one of the most disruptive global events in recent
memory.

Perhaps nowhere has its economic effect been felt more poignantly than in international trade and tourism. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the year 2020 saw an estimated $1.3 trillion loss in tourist expenditures worldwide.
While much of the dramatic decrease in travel and tourism can be attributed to individuals deciding to cancel or postpone trips, these decisions were accelerated in no small part by national
or local governments placing restrictions on gatherings, or not permitting the entry of foreign visitors. Though in many cases these measures seemed, and were, extreme, they were often too little too late. In many countries, lockdowns and border closures did not even begin until months after COVID-19 became a global pandemic.
Fortunately, as our understanding of the virus and how to treat cases improved, mortality rates declined, new cases decreased, and individuals gained a better understanding of how to protect themselves and others. Testing methods became frequent and reliable, and opened up the door to a gradual resumption of travel.

However, it was the development of effective vaccines that has truly brought the COVID saga to a crossroads. In the United States, the rollout of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines has surpassed expectations, so that just over 40 percent of all Americans are now fully vaccinated—jumping up to 75 percent in those age 65 and older.
These encouraging developments have given people hope that the pandemic is perhaps winding down, and as some have said, suggest a need to return to business-as-usual.
As tempting as this optimism may be after a year of lockdowns, it must be tempered with caution on the part of individuals, public health officials, and policy makers. Although the U.S.-administered vaccines have demonstrated a 94 to 95 percent effective rate for preventing death and serious illness, there is less data on how effective these vaccines are at preventing the spread of asymptomatic cases. Furthermore, outside of the U.S., the rollout of effective vaccines has been less than ideal. In Europe, problems and delays plagued the release of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, while the

effectiveness of vaccines developed in China and used across the developing world has been under scrutiny.
One case that has caused considerable hand wringing was that of the tiny island nation of the Seychelles. With a population of under 100,000, it quickly became the most vaccinated country on Earth and a litmus test for herd immunity. Yet within a few weeks new cases spiked, sending public health experts scrambling for answers. Although many health experts have stated that more information is needed to determine exactly what happened in the Seychelles, the very lack of answers is reason enough to maintain precautionary measures at borders such as PCR tests for entry and exit, enhanced sanitation, masks, and social distancing.
Regardless of the unique situation in the Seychelles, most countries around the world simply do not have access to any vaccines. Building global herd immunity could take months, by which time new variants of COVID-19 could potentially emerge. Although scientists have confirmed that existing vaccines are effective against the new variants that have come out of the U.K., South Africa, and India, there is much that is still unknown.
Without governments and border security agencies continuing to keep track of positive cases of people transiting their countries, any new variants could have the potential to undo the work so many have done to control the spread of the virus.

Complacent dependence on vaccines is short-sighted when medical scientists have so little understanding
of how and where new variants emerge and what percentage of vaccinated people is needed to build herd immunity.
A cautious approach, with testing required for travelers to cross borders, is still perhaps the best weapon we have against the virus.
As the World Health Organization has repeatedly warned, vaccinations are only one tool in a broader strategy
to stop the spread of the virus. As those who are fully vaccinated look forward to travelling again, they should be mindful that there are large portions of the world, particularly in poorer regions, that are not vaccinated and have limited access to medical care should they fall sick.
To tackle such a massive global problem, people must think globally, and enact and abide by policies that work to slow the spread of the virus in all communities, not just their own.
As a company that works in tandem with the travel
and tourism industries, COVAC Global is eager to see international travel return to pre-pandemic levels. However, abandoning safety restrictions at borders could jeopardize all the gains that have been made in containing the virus.
At COVAC Global we want you to travel, but we want you to do so safely, taking all the necessary precautions and abiding by national restrictions to ensure that
our eagerness to get our lives back does not become recklessness.

Covac Global is
an indemnified evacuation and repatriation service offered through a tiered membership program that — unlike other services — will cover individuals even after they report symptoms of COVID-19 or who test positive for the disease.

777 South Flagler Drive, Suite 800 West Tower, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 24/7 Operations Center : +1.561.418.3435 | members@covacglobal.com

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