Dr Anthony Fauci has backed the idea of banning unvaccinated people from air travel in the US.
“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people, you should be vaccinated,” Dr Fauci, the director of the US’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Skimm This podcast, according to The Hill. The podcast was taped last week and is set to be released on Thursday.
The support from Dr Fauci, who earlier led the Covid-19 task force, comes days after Democrat representative Don Beyer introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to make a proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours from travel a requirement to board an airline or a train.
Mr Beyer, the representative from Virginia, introduced The Safe Travel Act in the House on Thursday.
“Requiring airport and Amtrak travellers and employees to provide a proof of Covid vaccine or negative test is just common sense,” Mr Beyer said on his bill. “These are easy steps we can take to make travel safer, as companies like United have already demonstrated with responsible policy changes.”
Earlier in August another Democrat, New York representative Ritchie Torres, also pushed a bill to require Americans to get immunised or tested before travelling. In his letter to the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, Mr Torres said such a requirement was “common sense”.
On Friday, the White House refused to rule out the introduction of such a policy. “I think we have a very strong track record that shows we’re pulling available levers to acquire vaccinations and we’re not taking any measures off the table,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said.
So far, 54 per cent of Americans have been fully vaccinated, while 63 per cent have received at least one dose, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. Over 35 per cent, or nearly 80 million, Americans are unvaccinated.
President Joe Biden said last week that vaccine hesitancy, which remains a major hurdle for the US, has cost the country a great deal. “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” Mr Biden said. “And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing.”