The Evidence: Keeping out Covid-19

From flight bans and entry bans to compulsory quarantine and virus testing, most countries have introduced travel restrictions in an effort to control the spread of the virus. But for a virus that knows no borders, do cross-border health measures actually work?

Claudia Hammond and her panel of global experts answer listeners’ questions and discuss the very latest science about the use of border controls in this pandemic.

The countries we can all learn from, researchers say, include Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea. Their border policies are said to be consistent and, crucially, integrated with strong domestic public health measures.

So while we wait for vaccinations, it seems an international vaccination passport will be rolled out very soon, maybe as early as Spring. A digital passport – a golden ticket to travel – could give privileged access to those who have been inoculated. But what are the ethical and scientific concerns of such a move?

The panel with the answers include Kelley Lee, Professor of Public Health at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada who is leading an international project to assess cross border health measures, Pandemics and Borders, Dr Voo Teck Chuan, Assistant Professor at the University of Singapore Centre for Biomedical Ethics and a member of the WHO Working Group on Ethics and Covid-19, Dr Birger Forsberg, Associate Professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and senior physician and health planner at the regional health authority of Stockholm and Marc Lipsitch, Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Director of the Centre for Communicable Disease Dynamics in the USA.

Produced by: Fiona Hill, Samara Linton and Maria Simons

Editor: Deborah Cohen

Technical Support: Sarah Hockley

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