Fauci: AstraZeneca vaccine should be no bar for travellers to the US

© POOL Dr Anthony Fauci said British travellers who have received both AstraZeneca jabs should be allowed into the US when the ban is lifted. Photo: Reuters

Having the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be a stumbling block for entering the United States, Dr Anthony Fauci has assured Britons and Europeans, ahead of President Joe Biden’s lifting of a travel ban.

America’s top infectious diseases expert said even though the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not approved the shot, passengers who have the Oxford-made jab listed on their vaccine passport should not encounter problems at the border.

The Biden administration will reopen the country to vaccinated travellers from the UK and the EU, bringing an end to the 18-month-old blanket ban imposed by his predecessor President Donald Trump at the beginning of the pandemic.

During an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Dr Fauci was pressed on whether the US would recognise the AstraZeneca vaccine for travellers.

He replied: “I think that’s going to be something that needs to be worked out. I would imagine it would be, depending on the data that comes in.

“But right now, depending on the way you presented it, I don’t believe there’s any a prior reason to believe that people who have received the AZ vaccine should feel that there’s going to be any problem with them.”

His assurances come after a spokesman for Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he felt “confident” the AstraZeneca jab would be accepted by American border officials.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman, asked by reporters in New York whether there had been reassurances from US officials that the AstraZeneca jab would be recognised to allow British travellers to enter, said: “I have got no indications that it won’t be.

“I am confident that every vaccine we have used, any vaccine received in the UK and approved by the NHS, obviously signed off by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), WHO (World Health Organisation) will be applicable.”

The FDA recognises people who have received the Pfizer, Moderna or Janssen from Johnson & Johnson jab as fully vaccinated.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is approved by the WHO.

White House Covid-19 co-ordinator Jeff Zients, who announced the end of the travel ban, said all foreign visitors will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination as well as proof of a negative test taken with the previous three days.

Mr Johnson said he was “delighted” that US President Joe Biden was “reinstating transatlantic travel” but later faced questions about whether he had been kept out in the cold regarding the decision.

Speaking on the plane from London to America on Sunday, Mr Johnson had previously told reporters: “I don’t think we’re necessarily going to crack it this week.”

At a press briefing on Monday in New York, the Conservative Party leader said it was “thanks to the hard work of our teams” that the announcement had come “faster than we expected”.

The US announcement is a major boost for airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, and Heathrow Airport.

They have repeatedly blamed the travel ban for limiting the recovery of passenger numbers during the virus crisis.

Heathrow has gone from being Europe’s busiest airport in 2019 to 10th, behind rivals in cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt.

No 10 said Britain represented a “significant market” to the States and that a US-UK task force, agreed at the G7 leaders’ meeting in Cornwall in June with the aim of opening up travel, had “helped expedite” Washington’s decision to relax its border controls.

Around 3.8 million British nationals visited the US every year before the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Airlines will be required to collect contact information from international travellers so that they can be traced if required.

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