COVID-19: What are the future prospects of travel assistance?
While setting out the 2021 budgets, one question is repeated within the travel and insurance industry: What are the future prospects of travel activity and travel assistance for the next year?
SOS International uses a number of benchmarks when predicting the level of travel assistance. Allowance is made for announcements from the Nordic ministries of foreign affairs; from the travel industry and from the aviation industry.
- From some of the airlines, the message is that we will not be flying overseas until 2022. In addition, travel patterns also depend on the willingness of destinations to welcome travellers, says Karin Tranberg, Executive Vice President of Travelcare at SOS International.
For these reasons, SOS International believes that the development in travel behaviour – and thus travel assistance – is largely dependent on the prospects of the global community getting this corona pandemic under control – by way of a vaccine, treatment and new test methods.
Vaccine and treatment
Preben Joffe, Chief Physician at SOS International, closely follows the development of a vaccine, treatment options and test methods:
- Scientists in Oxford and China appear to be at the forefront of developing a vaccine that is both effective and safe. However, my professional assessment is that we will be well into 2021 before we see a real breakthrough in the form of a tested and approved vaccine.
Preben Joffe draws attention to the fact that there is quite a lot of work involved in producing, distributing and – not least – prioritising who should be the first to be given the vaccine:
- We will probably have to face the fact that the ordinary, healthy traveller will not be first in line to be given the vaccine, says Preben Joffe and points out that vulnerable groups such as the chronically ill are likely to be the first to be offered the vaccine.
Preben Joffe does not believe that we will see an actual cure that quickly fights the virus in an infected person. The treatments that are effective against COVID-19, such as adrenocortical hormone and blood thinners, affect the mortality of very sick patients – but these are not a cure for the virus.
New test method
This means that, in parallel with the development of treatment options and a vaccine, the pharmaceutical industry also focuses on test methods.
- The PCR test which is now in use provides a correct test result in ninety percent of cases. However, this method is time-consuming and costly because it requires laboratory work and medical staff, Preben Joffe explains.
For this reason, we now pin our faith on a new test method that may also impact travel activity. An antigen test which, with as much accuracy as the PCR test – and without a laboratory, can provide an almost immediate answer as to whether the test subject carries the virus.
- This is a test that may be crucial for the travel industry because you do not have to wait several days for an answer. On the contrary, it provides an on-the-spot answer as to whether you are infected, says Karin Tranberg.
At the present time, SOS International is working on incorporating the test into our services in Denmark and we expect to launch it at the end of September.
If this COVID-19 test is of interest to you as a company, please feel free to contact your contact person at SOS.