The World Travel and Tourism Council is calling upon the US government to urgently speed up approval of the UK’s AstraZeneca vaccine to help restore vital transatlantic links.
It comes after the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) this week approved the Pfizer vaccine, but still does not currently recognise AstraZeneca as an approved vaccine.
The WTTC fears the CDC approval process could take months to give AstraZeneca the all clear and will hamper the travel restart.
Virginia Messina, WTTC Senior Vice President, said: “It’s crucial the US authorities step forward to formally approve the AstraZeneca vaccine as a matter of urgency to enable cross-border mobility and the return of transatlantic travel between the UK and US.
“Unless they give it the green light then the US will effectively remain closed to the vast majority of UK visitors and the many millions around the world who are double-jabbed with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Neither the US nor the UK economy can afford this ‘vaccine vacuum’ to continue a day longer, and every day which passes, and transatlantic travel remains off limits, it leaves the travel and tourism sector sinking deeper into the red.”
The WTTC said even if the Biden Administration allows borders to reopen, the CDC’s non-recognition of AstraZeneca will be a significant barrier to transatlantic travel between the UK and the US.
It also warned that vaccine inequality could become an increasing barrier to international mobility and continue to inflict damage upon economies around the world.
AstraZeneca has the largest global reach of all current vaccines and has currently been administered across 176 countries and territories, highlighting the importance of its approval in the US.