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If the headline for this article upsets, annoys or angers you, please don’t bother complaining to me. I’m just the messenger. The sentiment expressed in the headline is based entirely on the signals being sent out by the United States government.
About a week ago, our government confirmed that it would extend the closure of our northern border to 21 September citing concerns around the delta variant’s presence in Canada. This extension comes even though the delta variant is already the dominant variant in the United States, even though Canada’s vaccination rate is ahead of ours and even though Canada is currently seeing lower levels of transmission than significant parts of our nation.
There are a number of things that we can take away from this decision, but a key takeaway is that we can now assume that the United States will not be lifting the ban on European travelers any time soon (presumably the delta variant’s presence in Europe is just as troublesome to our authorities as is its presence in Canada).
Also, because our government says that all its decisions are “led by science”, another key takeaway must be that there is important scientific information about the delta variant that only our government’s scientists have access to – no other country is banning travel based on the criteria our government claims to be using so, clearly, no other country can have the data that’s available to us.
Yes, admittedly this could be considered a little odd given the fact that the research being done by some European countries (eg. the UK) has been ahead of our own research for most of the pandemic and that scientists usually share key data when a pandemic is destroying the world, but I’m sure there’s a very good reason why only we have access to the data that proves that our government’s travel bans are necessary. I guess we’ll find out everything in due course.
Still, even if most of us aren’t privy to the key scientific data that’s available to our government, there are a few things that we can deduce about this data from the nature of the travel bans that we have been told are vital to public safety.
- The mystery data must show that the major vaccines have little to no effect on how likely a person is to spread the delta variant (why else prevent fully vaccinated non-residents/citizens from traveling from Europe).
- The data must show that even if the delta variant is already dominant in your county, it is vitally important to prevent any travel to your country from other areas where the delta variant is present…unless that travel is being made by your own residents/citizens in which case it doesn’t matter at all.
- The data must show that there are many exceptions to point #2 (why else ban travel originating in Europe but not from most other countries where the delta variant is running wild?)
I have to admit that if all of this is true (and it must be true because I can’t think of any other science-based reasons for the European ban to be kept in place), I find it a little odd that our government is happy to allow travel from a lot of other counties where the delta variant is prevalent, that its happy for our own residents and citizens to enjoy trips to countries and regions where the delta variant is prevalent (regardless of their vaccination status), but that it considers tested and vaccinated travelers from Europe a deadly threat.
Is it possible that our experts have discovered that the delta variant is more infectious and more deadly if borne by those not fortunate enough to be citizens or residents of the United States? Is it possible that our scientists have proved that the delta variant loses all its potency the moment it leaves some counties but not others?
Anyway, stunning scientific advances aside, when you think about everything outlined above, I’m pretty sure that we can all agree that there’s no doubt that our government has key scientific data surrounding the delta variant which suggests that:
- It’s vital to do everything possible to prevent travel between Europe and the United States (except for when that travel is being done by a US resident/citizen)
- There’s no need for bans on travel originating in bigger hotspots than Europe, the delta variant in those areas is somehow different to the delta variant in Europe and Canada.
- All of this data fully justifies the travel ban that’s currently in place.
Sure, it’s still a bit odd that no one else seems to share this data, but let’s not fixate on that. Let’s just give our administration a big pat on the back for somehow getting its hands on data no one else has managed to gather and for sticking to its promise to make decisions based on science. Well done guys! Good job!
Unfortunately, however, the pats on the back and the cheers of congratulations for the admonistration can’t go on for too long as it’s not all good news for us here in the US.
The problem that we now have is that while our government clearly has unquestionable scientific proof that its European travel ban is entirely necessary (remember, the government only makes decisions “based on science” so the proof must be there), that very same data (the data that no other country appears fortunate enough to have) must also strongly support a travel ban going the other way.
Based on our government’s indications of how the delta variant behaves, people moving from one region with the delta variant to another are very obviously a serious danger to public health, and as that covers the movement of people between the US and Europe, we – the citizens and residents of the US – must all be a big threat to the wellbeing of all the citizens and residents of Europe.
Yes, you could argue that the nature of our government’s travel bans suggests that it doesn’t see us (its own residents/citizens) as any kind of threat at all and that it’s only European-based travelers who are a danger to public health (I genuinely cannot wait to find out how “the science” explains that), but as we have obviously not shared our mystery data with anyone in Europe, we can’t expect the Europeans to assume that this is true.
It would be considerably safer for everyone concerned if no assumptions were made and if everyone who wasn’t a national or resident of a European country was banned from traveling from the US to Europe with immediate effect (regardless of their vaccination status).
Would this be inconvenient? Yes. Would it be annoying? Definitely. Is such a ban vitally important to save thousands of lives? Apparently so…at least according to the signals our government is sending out.
Of course, if our government isn’t really basing its decisions on science and if our government doesn’t have a justifiable scientific reason for a ban on European travelers, that would change things dramatically.
With no scientific evidence that a ban on European travelers is needed, a reciprocal European ban on US travelers would be pointless and ridiculous…but would our government *really* keep a ban in place that wasn’t backed by science? Well, I guess that’s for you to decide.
A request: I have no doubt that the contents and nature of this post will generate a few heated comments…and that’s fair enough. But please can we keep partizan politics out of the comments section? This has nothing to do with which party anyone belongs to, which party anyone supports, or which party is in power – the last administration and the man that led it took more than their fair share of idiotic decisions as well so let’s just focus on whether there’s any real justification for the travel bans or if they’re nothing more than pointless theatre. Thanks.