Easyjet has highlighted research by the Yale School of Public Health, which the carrier says shows “much of Europe should be declared Green by UK Government when travel restarts”.

The airline says that the new research suggests “the impact of travel on hospitalisation is very limited, meaning that for the UK today unrestricted travel from much of Europe would only increase hospitalisation by less than 4 per cent”.

Easyjet says that this, along with no countries in Europe currently being on the “red list” for variants of concern, means that most European countries should be classed as “green” under the new traffic light system, “including popular favourites Portugal, Greece and Spain”.

The carrier believes that “a green country should be one where unrestricted travel does not pose a risk to the NHS or the success of the vaccination programme”, and gives Spain as an example of a destination that should be classed as green, because:

  • Travel to and from Spain will not increase Covid rates in the UK and it is not currently on the UK red list and there is low prevalence of Variants of Concern
  • If Spain was green only an additional four people a week would be hospitalised with Covid based on data from April 12 and passenger numbers from 2019 and this is likely to further improve as vaccination programmes progress.

The new research has been carried out by faculty epidemiologists Dr Jeffrey Townsend and Dr Alison Galvani at the Yale School of Public Health, and models “the relationship between the characteristics of the disease and effectiveness of quarantine and testing as well as incorporating vaccination levels to assess the impact of travel and quarantines on hospitalisation rates”.

The research – which will shortly be submitted for publication and peer review – also shows that antigen testing on entry and exit to quarantine is as effective as a single PCR test in preventing further transmission, backing up a similar study commissioned by IATA.

Rapid antigen tests can safely reopen international travel

The research said that “switching to less-sensitive but inexpensive and logistically flexible rapid antigen tests yields results nearly identical to those determined using RT-PCR testing on exit”

In addition the study shows that where quarantine is necessary, “it does not need to be for as long as the government has set out for the amber tier”.

Commenting on the research Johan Lundgren, CEO of Easyjet, said:

“We are absolutely committed to a safe restart and are confident this can happen while protecting both the health system and the success of the vaccine programme.

“We can show through this research that as of April 12 the UK Government should be able to place much of Europe in the low-risk green tier because travel from several countries would not affect the UK case rate but most importantly it would have very little impact on hospitalisations in the UK.

“This is because vaccination is a game changer – the success of the UK vaccine roll out has broken the link between cases and hospitalisation and by May and June we expect the situation to progressively improve because vaccination rates.

“The Government urgently needs to publish both the parameters for each tier and the country list so consumers get some much-needed clarity on where they can travel. And in the meantime, it must do all possible to drive down the cost of testing while reviewing the need for these restrictions.

“As the rest of the economy emerges from this lockdown with some precautions in place, there is no reason why the same is not possible for travel.”