Heathrow vaccine verification trial success

The study’s results suggest that the current ‘amber’ policy could be expanded to those immunised in the US and EU 

The joint trial initiated by Heathrow Airport, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, to identify whether vaccination statuses can be quickly verified at borders has been hailed a success. 

Following the ten-day study, all three companies concluded that the UK government could expand its amber policy and remove quarantine measures for those vaccinated in the US and EU.  

According to the cohort, the trial demonstrates that airports and airlines are able to check the vaccination status of passengers at the departure point and outside of Britain. Results found that 99% of presented credentials were authentic, with the other 1% denied travel due to not meeting documentation requirements. 

London Heathrow Airport
Photo London Heathrow Airport

“We are confident that this proving trial provides the evidence the government needs to allow fully vaccinated customers from low-risk countries to enter the UK, knowing it’s possible to do so smoothly and safely,” said Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO and chairman. “The UK needs to safely re-open its borders as soon as possible to ensure loved ones can reunite, business can thrive and Global Britain is able to take advantage of the UK’s world-leading vaccination programme.” 

Under the current rules in the UK, travellers arriving from amber listed countries must have both vaccines to avoid self-isolation. However, this excludes those who have been fully vaccinated anywhere else in the world.  

Due to this, the sector believes that Britain has fallen behind the EU. Therefore, they have suggested that those immunised in the US and Europe should also not have to quarantine when reaching the UK.  

The ten-day trial saw that fully vaccinated customers on selected flights from Los Angeles, New York, Montego Bay and Athens, agreed to display their vaccine status. These transatlantic routes were handpicked for the study. 

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, added: “Our proof-of-concept trial demonstrates our readiness as an industry to rapidly operationalise an expanded amber policy for fully vaccinated travellers, and work with government and authorities to ensure it is smoothly implemented at pace, supporting the reopening of the transatlantic corridor.” 

Amongst the most popular credentials were the CDC cards, New York’s Excelsior Pass and the EU Digital Covid Credential.  

The UK government is set to announce updated travel requirements before Saturday (July 31).