The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) hosted a video by the Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Amanda Hagen on the science of COVID-19 and the impact of vaccinations on travel.
Broadcast on GBTA’s YouTube channel as part of its Ready. Safe. Travel. initiative, advocating for the responsible restart of business travel, Dr. Amanda Hagen, MD, MPH, FACOEM, medical director with the Cleveland Clinic AtWork discussed in the video how testing and vaccines are helping to restore confidence in moving beyond the pandemic around the globe.
“I think we’re finally getting back on track, and we’re getting to a point now where we really are going to get to start traveling again,” said Dr. Hagen in the presentation. “Not just domestically, but internationally, and that’s huge. Not only will we be able to travel for business, which will help all of our economies, but we’ll be able to travel for pleasure too. I think you need to be prepared, because I think you’re going to get pretty busy, pretty quickly.”
Hesitancy Surrounding Vaccines
Dr. Hagen debunked many of the common fears surrounding the COVID-19 vaccinations, such as the idea that the vaccines were approved so quickly that shortcuts must have been taken. Dr. Hagen explained that no shortcuts were taken with the science, and that the vaccines are completely safe, and the only corners that were cut were related to the bureaucratic red tape of the approval process.
“There’s a lot of mystery out there about how these vaccines work,” said Dr. Hagen. “Which leads to a lot of fear, which leads to vaccine hesitancy. I can assure you that there is nothing to fear when it comes to these vaccines. The science behind the vaccines is completely sound.”
The GBTA presentation then explained in detail how the vaccines work, comparing mRNA vaccines such as the Pfizer and Moderna, to DNA vaccines such as Johnson & Johnson, which function in different ways. Dr. Hagen also addressed the concern that some component of the vaccine may remain in the body and alter the DNA in some way.
“The spike proteins only last for about 24-48 hours in your body before they disintegrate and fall apart,” explained Dr. Hagen. “The messenger RNA also disintegrates, so there is nothing hanging out in the body changing your DNA or altering your cells in any way, shape or form. There’s nothing left of the vaccine in your body to cause problems in the future, which is something people worry about.”
Vaccines Protect Against Variants
Dr Hagen also addressed the issue of variants, explaining how the vaccines cover all of the variants that we have seen so far. In the variants, a small number of amino acids within the spike protein of the virus have been exchanged for other amino acids, but following vaccination, your cells have been trained to recognize a spike protein and protect against it.
“So far there hasn’t been a variant where the vaccine is not protective,” said Dr. Hagen. “If you are fully vaccinated, you’re very well protected, and you should be able to travel safely. There is still a small chance that you could still get COVID if you are fully vaccinated, as it’s 95 percent effective not 100 percent. But even if you’re in that 5 percent, if you do catch it, it’s a much less severe case. And there is new evidence coming out that those cases might not have enough of a viral load in their body to really spread it. So if you’re a fully vaccinated person out in public, you’re safe.”