Ditch the travel traffic light system, says former head of vaccine taskforce

His comments are particularly prescient for travel – a topic that has dominated the headlines in recent weeks with the summer holiday season in full swing.

Currently there are four different categories in the Government’s travel rules: green, green watchlist, amber and red.

For the first, just a Covid test will suffice on return; for the latter, Britons must quarantine for 10 days in a hotel picked by the Government at the cost of more than £2,000 per adult. 

Some travel industry sources, Tory MPs and even Labour front-benchers are calling for the traffic light system to be scrapped in place of a much simpler system.

Mr Dix agreed, voicing support for a setup that would see a handful of countries of concern – such as those with little Covid genomic sequencing – to be put on a red list that needs quarantining and all others to require just a test on return.

He explained: “At the moment I think it should be very simple. I think there’s only a few countries now that have a very low level of vaccines and aren’t being well surveyed, so we don’t really know what the viral variants are there.

“But the rest of them, we’re pretty sure what’s there. And I think there’s no difference between moving around there and us moving around within the UK.”

He added that the known variants of concerns – such as those originally found in India and South Africa – have reached the UK and cases are now dropping.

Mr Dix did add that a crucial element would have to remain – careful monitoring for a potential “breakthrough” variant and a “very clear strategy” of action should that happen.

A second area where Mr Dix hoped for something close to normality to prevail was vaccine passports, which would see people having to prove they had been jabbed before entry into certain venues. 

Mr Johnson had said that nightclubs and large crowd events could be forced by law to adopt them from the end of September, though the exact plans are yet to be announced.

Mr Dix dismissed the idea of vaccine passports: “Domestically, I think it’s a waste of time. A complete waste of time.”

His argument, boiled down, was to have faith in the impact of the vaccines themselves rather than placing new barriers to socialising that could then remain in the long term. 

But the argument Mr Dix most wants to be heard in Whitehall is his call to give spare Covid vaccines to developing countries where just a tiny proportion of people have been jabbed.

The Prime Minister pledged to give away 100 million Covid vaccines at the G7 summit earlier this year and has adopted the target of vaccinating the world by the end of 2022.

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