Coronavirus: London airport CEO, COVID-19 tests needed for years even with vaccine

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Airline passengers will need to take Covid-19 tests before flying long after a vaccine for the viral infection has been introduced, the head of what’s usually Europe’s busiest airport warned.

The time required for a global vaccine roll-out means testing must go hand-in-hand with inoculation if international travel is to return to meaningful levels, London Heathrow airport Chief Executive Officer John Holland-Kaye said in an interview Wednesday.

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“Even with the U.K. getting early access to a vaccine it’ll take a year and a half to vaccinate the entire country, Holland-Kaye told Bloomberg TV. “It’s going to take much longer before even the fastest vaccine can really have a massive impact around the world.

International flights have barely revived from groundings earlier this year as countries impose travel curbs to stem fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus. While Pfizer Inc.’s announcement of a vaccine that appears to prevent 90% of infections has buoyed airline stocks, it’s not clear how air-transport regulators will respond and how quickly the breakthrough will benefit the industry.

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