Category Archives: Transportation

The other complication of vaccine passports

I have a list of the dozen or so countries that have announced “vaccine passports”, plus businesses considering requiring vaccine passports soon.

Once they start requesting a digital vaccine passport certificate (Via your cellphone), you know this will quickly expand to proof of vaccination for many other diseases too. For many of us, that could be a problem because vaccines are a modern invention and many adults never had the vaccinations now given routinely to children.

Today, kids in the U.S. will receive vaccinations for 14 to 17 diseases.

I was vaccinated for smallpox (which is no longer one of the required vaccines) and polio. And nothing else.

As an adult I’ve had tetanus, Shingrix and an annual influenza vaccination. That’s it.

Supposedly I had measles, mumps and chicken pox as a child (but not rubella). Today, the CDC expects us to have lab proof of having had childhood diseases or proof of vaccination – especially for measles and especially if traveling internationally.

In our façade of achieving a zero risk world, our vaccine passports will soon expect us to have a record of our entire immunity profile. And if missing a key vaccination, we may find ourselves denied boarding, denied entry to a country, or even denied entry to a restaurant, museum, event or concert.

But for many of us, there is no past documentation of vaccinations or that we had many of childhood diseases and now have immunity. Our option is to get tested (which is expensive), then get vaccinated if we did not have the disease, plus get new vaccinations available now (for example Hep A/B).

Yesterday I had my blood drawn for an MMR serology test. Pending results, I may be vaccinated or not for any of those.

I will get a Covid-19 vaccination once I am eligible. My state has moved its forecast of Fall of 2021 to “eligible to try and sign up starting in June”. It may then take 2 or 3 months to get a time slot for actually getting vaccinated.

Note – I AM NOT an anti-vaxxer. There were only 2 vaccines when I was young and I was told I had most of the childhood diseases. The year my parents said I had measles, the CFR of measles was 2.1%, higher than that of Covid-19…

Travel and tourism post pandemic: “More exclusive, more responsible, more expensive”

  • News reports say it may be until 2023 or 2024 (depending on region) before airline travel is restored to 2019 pre-pandemic levels.
  • These timelines seem realistic considering the training necessary to re-certify flight crews who have been furloughed for lengthy stretches, and who may need to train to fly different aircraft than they flew before.
  • Demand for air travel in 2022 and early 2023 may exceed supply of passenger seats. This means flying might require booking months in advance and/or paying much higher fares.

A news report says Delta thinks it will take ’til summer of 2023 to re-build the airline back to 2019 pre-pandemic levels.

Separately, countries are looking at ways to limit tourism, or focus more on luxury/high end travelers who stay longer and spend more money. There is also talk of more fees and carbon taxes on tourists, which may limit future international travel to the well off.

Continue reading Travel and tourism post pandemic: “More exclusive, more responsible, more expensive”

EVs that swap batteries instead of recharging

(Reuters) – Ample, a seven-year-old San Francisco startup, wants to skirt one of the big hurdles to widespread adoption of electric vehicles by reviving the idea of quick, automated battery swaps for owners concerned about running out of juice while driving.

Source: California startup touts battery-swapping to juice demand for electric vehicles | Reuters

Interesting but I suspect super fast DC charging will meet most use scenarios for EVs. As EVs switch to 125 kwh to 350 kwh charging capabilities – the time to charge 80% of capacity will be short enough.

Bill Gates: Nuclear power will ‘absolutely’ be politically acceptable

Agree:

Nuclear power has to overcome a baneful reputation garnered by association with the atomic bomb and radioactive disasters, but it’s a necessary, worthy and surmountable challenge to correct the naysayers, according to Gates.

That’s because the need for clean energy is dire, and the operation of nuclear power plants produces no greenhouse gas emissions. According to Gates, new innovations in nuclear technology (in which he is an investor) are making nuclear energy safer and more affordable, and countries around the world are starting to adopt nuclear power.

Source: Bill Gates: Nuclear power will ‘absolutely’ be politically acceptable

Academic says quarantines should be required for all travel forever, even when there are no pandemics

A word that rhymes with “Boron” comes to mind here:

A two-week quarantine period for international, inter-regional, or transcontinental travel would make a huge difference in preventing future epidemics from becoming pandemics. Standing travel quarantine policies should be implemented, even when we are not in a pandemic. These can become as normal as other preventive measures we take, such as airport security and washing hands after using the bathroom. Having travel quarantine policies in place will also make it easier to adjust for particular events, such as increasing the quarantine time if a long-incubation illness emerges or testing for a particular illness.

Source: An argument for ongoing travel quarantines. — EndCoronavirus.org

Because a 2-week mandatory quarantine in each direction of a trip is exactly the same as “airport security and washing hands after using the bathroom”?

This proposal includes quarantines for travel between U.S. states too – literally placing people under arrest and detaining them. California, if it were a country, would be the 37th largest country in the world and New York would be the 60th largest country in the world.

Continue reading Academic says quarantines should be required for all travel forever, even when there are no pandemics

Global travel may be restricted through 2023 or 2024

I do not think such a delay will happen as the financial costs are far too great to everyone:

A report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit last month projected that the bulk of the adult population of advanced economies would be vaccinated by the middle of next year. In contrast, this timeline extends to early 2023 for many middle-income countries and even as far out as 2024 for some low-income countries.

Source: Covid vaccine passports: Health experts are deeply concerned

BUT – it is a real possibility in a world where 15-days to flatten the curve has evolved to “until there are zero Covid cases worldwide”.

To put this risk in perspective, the year I had measles (and mumps at the same time), the case fatality rate for measles was 2.1%. Nothing was shut down. No one wore masks. People traveled freely.

Hyundai to replace battery packs in 82,000 EVs

After many EVs caught fire, a defect was identified inside the individual battery cells. The company will not replace the entire battery packs in their EVs made between Nov 2017 and March 2020.

Source: Hyundai Announces Massive Battery Recall For Roughly 82,000 BEVs

From an environmental standpoint, this large recall likely negates environmental gains from all EV sales. Yuck.

The immediate need for 82,000 new battery packs in an industry currently constrained by battery supply will hinder sales of many EVs for some time. Literally, this is 2 1/2 years production from a single large EV manufacturer (Hyundai).

Meanwhile, GM indicates they will have a fix for the Chevy Bolt EV fires in earlier models. They indicate a software update will be able to detect future battery problems, alert the driver, and then repair or replace the battery bank before it catches fire. The underlying problem on the Chevy Bolt is not the same as that on the Hyundai cars although both resulted in fires.

“If only the United States had been like New Zealand”

I see frequent assertions on social media – daily – that if only the U.S. had put residents under house arrest sooner, or put travel restrictions in sooner, or ordered use of arbitrary cloth face masks sooner – then the outcome in the U.S. would be just like New Zealand, an island nation with few cases.

New Zealand

United States

  • The first case in the United States was detected on January 20th and publicly announced on January 21.
  • On January 31, 2020, the U.S. closed access from China and from Iran on February 23.
  • The second case in the U.S. was detected on February 23. Italy established its first lock downs in limited areas of Italy on February 22.
  • The first death in the U.S. was announced on February 29.
  • March 11th, the US suspends most travel from most EU countries.
  • My own state was in lock down on March 23d. Even access to non-emergency health care was shut down.
  • A later CDC study found Covid-19 antibodies in blood samples taken December 13, 2019, throughout the U.S.
  • Covid-19 was spreading in December, and possibly (due to the presence of antibodies) earlier than that. That means Covid-19 was in the U.S. up to 3 months before the first documented case in NZ.

According to the World Health Organization (October, 2019) travel restrictions are generally ineffective except for some island nations and only if implemented very early in the outbreak.

People erroneously assume that Covid-19 hit every country, identically, on exactly the same day but that is a false assumption. Everyone ignores the “time dimension” and the effects that has on Covid-19 outcomes.

Second, there are many factors in play. For example, the early cases appear to have arrived directly from China. The amount of travel between China and other countries varied greatly. Between the time the first case was publicly identified in China and the time travel restrictions went in to effect, over 430,000 people flew from China to the U.S. over the next 4 weeks. Even after restrictions went into effect, another 40,000 people made the trip. (I could not find numbers for NZ and Australia.)

For the U.S. to potentially achieve results similar to NZ, the entire U.S. would have had to go into lockdown by the end of December, and certainly within January. Politically, this would have been impossible – I have several saved social media posts from politicians and media celebrities who condemned initial U.S. travel restrictions, and condemned China’s “lockdown” policies.

In many states, including mine, we went into house arrest the 3rd week of March and depending on the location in the state, remained there for up to 13 weeks.

The U.S. and New Zealand were not playing on the same playing field.

New Zealand had a head start on hunting for Covid-19 because it was late to the party. The time dimension matters.