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Cause for cautious optimism?


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Each time I speak with my daughter and family in Australia it reminds me of how we could have done things so much better.  While you might not have the International travel until 2020 I too would trade much of what we have for what you all have.  It is expected another 100,000 people will die in the USA between now and February 15 which would take deaths to 500,000 people.  I suspect now everyone in my country knows people who have had COVID-19 and either people who have died or friends who know people who have died.  We now know several people who got COVID-19 and through friends we know of five who have died.  Very sad.

 

For the past few months my daughter has shared with us life in Sydney and it is far better than our lives.  

 

Many will disagree with me but in my country we should have shut down things such as interstate travel as you all did and we should have shut down airports and required people to wear masks and have fines as you all did if more than x number of people are in the same place.  So much we could have done to have been one of the places others looked up to instead of one of the worst when it came to this.

 

Maybe it's me but when I learned from my parents, and grandmother who lived with us and relatives about World War II and the Great Depression to me that was true sacrifice.  If we would have been required to wear masks and not travel for a period of time and a few other things and people complained I truly think they would have "missed the boat" when it came to those who lived before us and the "true" sacrifices they made and not for months but for years.

 

Stay safe everyone.

 

Let's hope we can get out of this and the vaccines works as designed.

 

Keith

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On 1/21/2021 at 1:04 PM, ClefsDor said:

Here in Australia we have been told to expect no international travel until 2022, i.e. our borders are going to remain closed until that time.

Since your summer will be starting in December 2021, January 2022 seems rather arbitrary as a starting point, season-wise.  I know you did not say January, and I am wondering if starting in "2022" might mean after your winter of 2022?  If so, it does not bode well for the 2022 World Cruise, which is scheduled to arrive in Australia on Feb. 28 (after arriving in New Zealand on Feb. 21).

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28 minutes ago, SusieQft said:

I know you did not say January, and I am wondering if starting in "2022" might mean after your winter of 2022? 


That would be unlikely as our Winter 2022 ends in late August! 

We don’t tend to use seasons when talking timing here - and with the Health Chiefs comment he actually said “substantial border restrictions and hotel quarantine rules will remain in place for sometime yet” - of course the media chose to position it as nothing until 2022 which is not what he actually said (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-18/international-travel-unlikely-2021-coronavirus-borders/13065868)

 

As to the impact on Crystal’s WC 2022 - who really knows? - no one! It’s all supposition and assumption around the state of the pandemic at that time. Personally I’m not banking on it not being impacted 

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On 1/21/2021 at 8:25 AM, TRIPACIAN said:

I'm not sure about this, at least in the short term.

 

European Council President Charles Michel said today that achieving their goal will be challenging because of what we are facing here and that is production of the vaccine.  They had set a non-binding goal of getting 70% of the population vaccinated by the summer  but they are very far from that goal.  As to the Vaccine Passport he said discussions about this are way premature.  He thinks the focus should be on a vaccine certification which is recognizable by even the European or Global Level.  Hopefully, the one we are all receiving in the USA will be one of those which is recognizable.

 

Also hopefully other companies will get certified such as in the USA J&J and we will just get a lot more supply.  

 

In the USA obviously the challenges are getting a lot more vaccine, getting it shipped where it needs to go and streamlining getting vaccines into arms and also the sign up process and the education of how to sign up.  For those who are not computer savvy including uploading documents when required (we had to upload information) that presents an extra challenge as well as those who don't have computers.

 

We will get there but it's going to take time.  All of this will take a Herculaneum effort by the companies producing the vaccines, by the governments and by local areas.   

 

Keith

 

Keith

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I don't think there is really a need for a new "Vaccine Passport" document, as long as the coronavirus vaccinations and other vaccinations are recorded in a WHO-approved "International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis."  This is the official name for the document that is commonly known as "the yellow card."  I have this hunch that some of those in the discussions among the EU countries may not really realize this.  Also, it is possible that some countries do not have the custom of recording vaccinations and/or giving that record to the recipients in the way that results in a document that can be carried.

 

I am seriously thinking about taking my coronavirus vaccination card and my yellow card to a travel medicine/infectious disease physician and have them certify it also on my yellow card, so that I can just take that everywhere when we start traveling again.

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1 hour ago, Psoque said:

I don't think there is really a need for a new "Vaccine Passport" document, as long as the coronavirus vaccinations and other vaccinations are recorded in a WHO-approved "International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis."  This is the official name for the document that is commonly known as "the yellow card."  I have this hunch that some of those in the discussions among the EU countries may not really realize this.  Also, it is possible that some countries do not have the custom of recording vaccinations and/or giving that record to the recipients in the way that results in a document that can be carried.

 

I am seriously thinking about taking my coronavirus vaccination card and my yellow card to a travel medicine/infectious disease physician and have them certify it also on my yellow card, so that I can just take that everywhere when we start traveling again.

 

I tend to agree with Psoque that there is already an international documentation system in place.  If there are issues regarding the “yellow card”, they ought to be addressed on a worldwide basis.  For example, there may be a timely need to impose more standard protocols and to modernize the system by incorporating digital record keeping.

 

I have had “yellow cards” for years.  The majority of the vaccines I received to date do not appear on them, because they include only stamps and signatures for vaccinations potentially needed for travel. 

 

Apparently, vaccines currently used in some countries have not been rigorously pre-screened.  Thus, I am wondering whether new coronavirus vaccines have to be certified by WHO (which the USA has just rejoined) before they can appear on the “yellow card”. 

Edited by Jim9310
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There is an emerging dilemma which may delay recovery of the international travel industry beyond the period when rich countries have obtained herd immunity.

 

How 'vaccine nationalism' could prolong the Covid-19 pandemic

 

The hoarding of vaccine doses by rich countries has complicated the effort to secure enough for the world’s poorest nations.

 

A small group of rich countries — comprising just 16 percent of the world’s population — have locked up 60 percent of the global vaccine supply, according to Duke University’s Global Health Institute.

Edited by Jim9310
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Thanks to Jim9310 for the link.  The article is a very interesting commentary on the global vaccine supply situation and good food for thought.  It would be better, but for the article’s misuse of the term “hoarding”.  If a country uses all the vaccine it can generate or import, that’s not hoarding.  In these early days of the vaccine, demand everywhere is outstripping supply, so there’s no hoarding going on.  If any country starts actually hoarding its surplus vaccine instead of offering it to countries (rich or poor) that don’t have enough, then its citizens should loudly decry such an abuse.  (Of course, that will not work in oppressed countries, but most of the rich countries are free.)  In that instance, “hoarding” would be an appropriate term and not misleading such as in the article.

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1 hour ago, thosby said:

 If a country uses all the vaccine it can generate or import, that’s not hoarding.

 

I fully agree!  Just to be clear, the inapplicable word "hoarding" was not my idea.  It was used in the sub-headline and several times within of the NBC news article.  I do believe an important dilemma is emerging.

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At the risk of repeating myself from an earlier post, unless I am missing something fundamental, where are the vaccine supplies going to come from to facilitate crew vaccination (and those Vince has referred to in the wider hospitality industry)? I appreciate that vaccine production will ramp up dramatically but are we really saying that there will be enough supplies within 12 months or so for there to be spare, commercially accessible supplies for companies to buy and use for their own priorities?

 

Right now we have countries (eg Italy) setting out to sue manufacturers for not producing supply fast enough. I can imagine the USA getting into some rows over vaccine volumes / availability once the new Administration discover that is the factor that holds up their plans. 

 

Is this not a factor that we are not understanding well enough as it relates to cruise lines restarting?

 

Adrian 

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A couple of additional thoughts.

 

Jim9310 thank you for the link.  I am in agreement with you and thosby about the use of hoarding.

 

There is no question that wealth plays into it.  Countries with money could "speculate" on the vaccine and commit money up front.  In some cases they made commitments without putting up any money as the USA did with Pfizer.  In other cases money was provided up front with no guarantee the vaccine would even work.  For example, the idea in the USA was to get several companies engaged in this by giving them money hoping that one or more would come through and if they did this would give us larger quantities of the vaccine.  So absolutely the benefit is having money.  No question about it but I would point out if you have money but didn't make up front commitments you might now wait on line for more vaccine.

 

I am not sure when we will reach herd immunity in the USA.  Ask different experts and you get different answers or simply some not wanting to commit because there are many variables.  Right now we are behind the eight ball.  Hopefully we can turn this around.

 

I expect in the USA and in some of the other countries that once we get things under control we will assist in the purchase of vaccine for those countries who could not afford it.  During this pandemic we are reminded what the USA did under President George Bush and that was to give lots of help to Africa in the fight against AIDS.  Dr. Fauci often speaks about this as he was a key player in addressing AIDS.

 

On a different note but related to wealth one things I am very pleased about with respect to the vaccine is that as best I know (I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong) is that I haven't heard of boutique doctors getting the vaccine in the USA and although there are differences between the states in the USA as to the priorities in which they are following  the very wealthy and famous are on the same line as we are on.  Now there are challenges and that includes those of all ages (mainly older people though) who are not computer savvy and for those who don't even have computers and connection to the internet and that is being able to attempt to schedule appointments for the vaccine.  Eventually some of this will get addressed at least for rural and poor areas as they make vaccine available without scheduled appointments.

 

Keith

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3 minutes ago, Noggins said:

At the risk of repeating myself from an earlier post, unless I am missing something fundamental, where are the vaccine supplies going to come from to facilitate crew vaccination (and those Vince has referred to in the wider hospitality industry)? I appreciate that vaccine production will ramp up dramatically but are we really saying that there will be enough supplies within 12 months or so for there to be spare, commercially accessible supplies for companies to buy and use for their own priorities?

 

Right now we have countries (eg Italy) setting out to sue manufacturers for not producing supply fast enough. I can imagine the USA getting into some rows over vaccine volumes / availability once the new Administration discover that is the factor that holds up their plans. 

 

Is this not a factor that we are not understanding well enough as it relates to cruise lines restarting?

 

Adrian 

Adrian at least in the USA if you are in certain professions regardless of age companies are now beginning to get their employees vaccinated.  For example, my son works for a company in hospitality services and for those employees in his company who are on the front lines  are now being vaccinated.  His company while having a large market share in the USA is actually French owned and has services in several countries. 

 

 I suspect cruise lines(the cruise industry) will be able to make arrangements to get vaccine for crew members.  It won't happen overnight since most are not operating this very second,  but I can't see why it would not happen in the next few months.  Like the company my son works for I suspect the cruise lines have been working this one for a couple of months already.  

 

Keith

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I continue to be cautiously optimistic about cruising but still believe the timing for cruises to start up to be up in the air.   I also think itineraries will be a challenge for many reasons including the state of any individual country at the time of sailing and what their rules are such as quarantine rules, etc.

 

On top of all of just getting the world vaccinated we have to keep our fingers crossed that the vaccine is as effective on the virus as it is mutating.  As scientists say the mutation of the virus was expected as this is a common cycle but let's hope there are not any surprises where the vaccine mutates to such an extent the vaccine become less effective.

 

In the meantime I wish people would listen to the scientists and do all they are suggesting.  Unfortunately too many people are not doing this not only in my country but in many parts of the world.  If only the world followed countries such as New Zealand and Australia we could have been starting in a much better place with the rollout of the vaccines.  However we are now here but the biggest thing we can all do is follow the science and that includes wearing your darn mask and wearing it correctly.  

Keith

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1 hour ago, Keith1010 said:

regardless of age companies are now beginning to get their employees vaccinated

Thanks for that, Keith - so I was missing something fundamental! In the UK there are already rows breaking out over spare vaccine being used on staff 'friends and families' to avoid it going to waste. If supplies were being diverted to private companies I can't imagine what sort of row would break out. 

Adrian

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1 hour ago, Noggins said:

Thanks for that, Keith - so I was missing something fundamental! In the UK there are already rows breaking out over spare vaccine being used on staff 'friends and families' to avoid it going to waste. If supplies were being diverted to private companies I can't imagine what sort of row would break out. 

Adrian

 

While Keith did a great job of explaining, I just wanted to add something...  One key thing Keith mentioned is the "not overnight" part -- it's not like private companies are siphoning off doses from angry mobs awaiting shots.  While vaccinations have begun for the highest profile front line employees, most of these plans ramp up in the US over the next few months, as demand is projected to wane.  For example, I believe JetBlue has already started vaccinating some of its employees, but American Airlines doesn't start beginning vaccination until February at the earliest, and I think they're only projecting to have one hub online even beginning vaccinations at that point.

 

I think the key piece here is the projected vaccination demand curve in the US.  My company is further down the pipeline from airlines/cruise lines since we won't be able to operate until you get gather people, but just like airlines I understand we're grappling with the problem of how to incentivize employees to take it.  We'll likely begin in early summer, but by that point the US is projected (based on current surveys) to start running out of people that are excited to take the vaccine, and we'll need to start coaxing the general population to take the then-readily-available doses.  Based on our other programs, I expect my company will pay employees to do the Covid vaccine the way they do other vaccinations, but I've heard similar debates going on inside other companies that ear even earlier in the pipeline.

 

Right now we have strong demand in the US, but it won't take too many months before vaccine hesitancy tips that equation here, and that's part of what we're balancing with the corporate vaccinations I think.

 

Vince

Edited by BWIVince
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Vince thank you for elaborating on what I said and adding to it.  You are spot on.

 

Adrian I should have made myself clearer because I don't want to imply anyone is cutting in line.

 

I should also add that when I spoke about essential workers these are working in the company that my son works in doing hospitality services but it is things like providing essential food services in hospitals, universities and other places which have to remain open.  What I was getting at is that a company like his was able to get this coordinated and again not for everyone but those on the front lines.  The point being in a few months (not today but in a few months as more people get vaccinated and we get to the stage where everyone is eligible for vaccination) that rather than letting each employee fend for themselves I would think the cruise industry will make use of companies which can coordinate this for they employees.  

 

Keith

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Optimism scrapped just a bit.  Merck's 2 vaccines that were in the pipeline scrapped.  Vey discouraging.  These were to be single dose vaccines.  The biggest problem we have now is availability of vaccine.

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For cruises we must remember, and has been stated, it isn’t just where you come from but every country you plan on visiting needs to be vaccinated and healthy.  I’m sure we will have ports cancelled and a lot of changes after trips start. Hopefully this won’t last long but people must be prepared 

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I’m not surprised or discouraged about Merck...  For a couple of months now, they’ve been tempering expectations about their candidate — the only time I can even recall hearing about it was when their CEO was on CNBC and he made it sound like a less-effective, cheaper alternative that might fill a niche position while we’re in a pinch (in the context of the US situation).  They have two therapeutics that look more promising, I’m not surprised to see them focus on the products that will make a bigger impact.

 

Its going to be interesting to see how the rest of the single-dose candidates fare... Our expectations have been prepped that they won’t be as effective but anything over 60% is acceptable, and obviously we won’t be able to produce enough doses without at least SOME of them.  I’m curious to see actual data to see what “less effective” actually looks like.

 

For all of the downsides of the mRNA vaccines (logistics nightmares, cost, manufacturing constraints, etc.), they have two huge advantages...  They create a more robust response that gives broader coverage against variants than what we’re seeing at least initially discussed from conventional vaccines, and they can deploy boosters and variants of the vaccines relatively quickly.  The South African variant seems to get just a diminished response from the mRNA vaccines, but there seem to be big concerns about whether it’s resistance to the antibodies of the other strains means the conventional vaccine candidates will hold up worse against it.  🙁

 

Vince

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33 minutes ago, BWIVince said:

 

For all of the downsides of the mRNA vaccines (logistics nightmares, cost, manufacturing constraints, etc.), they have two huge advantages...  They create a more robust response that gives broader coverage against variants than what we’re seeing at least initially discussed from conventional vaccines, and they can deploy boosters and variants of the vaccines relatively quickly.

I'm not really sure if this is really true.  There are only TWO mRNA vaccines that are widely distributed so far, both for the same virus, and they were introduced late last year.  There are no other examples of this kind of vaccine yet.  I think it is really premature to make a generalized statement about all (future) mRNA vaccines based on these two.  Yes, we would like to be hopeful about the prospect, and the currently available results from the two mRNA vaccines is promising.

 

Also, it is misleading to say that, for some reason immunity from mRNA vaccine "create a more robust response" or "gives broader coverage against variants." compared to "conventional vaccines."  I am not sure what "conventional vaccines" that you refer to.  There are various types of vaccines that have been available in general use, and not all of them are the same.  Some of them are live attenuated viruses (polio), some are killed/dismembered viruses (influenza), some are inactivated toxins (diphtheria and tetanus), to name a few.

 

Based on the current understanding of how our immune system works, it's really the ability of the immune system that can/cannot respond to antigenic variants.  The strategies the immune system uses include, but not limited to small random mutations to the sequence of antibodies and T-cell recpetors to make slight variants to the original B and T cells that were stimulated by the vaccine/infection.  This occurs whether the vaccination/infection involved mRNA vaccines or not.

 

What we know so far is that the commonly known mutants of the current coronavirus have not had any substantial alteration in the antigenicity of the spike protein.  But as we know from other viruses, some viruses are perfectly capable of making a fairly drastic change to their genomic sequences to evade the pre-existing immunity, whether be acquired from vaccines or from real infection.

 

For example, the Jenssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine that is expected to be submitted for emergency authorization is a non-pathogenic adenovirus containing a sequence from the spike protein.  It is designed to be a single-dose vaccine.

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Hopefully Johnson & Johnson will come through and be approved.  I believe they have an 80 to 85% efficacy rate in their trial.  Not as good as the other two but we do need more vaccine and they do have the advantage of one dose.  They have been all over the place as to how much they can produce but I think from reading lots of articles that 100 million sounds doable with more to come.  

 

I look forward to the day when we don't talk about vaccine and getting scheduled, etc.

 

If only we could inject bleach or turn on a strong light and this thing would go puff.  Or maybe it's just a hoax.  LOL.

 

Keith

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Keith as you correctly pointed out earlier  that the initial surge of vaccinations was due to the pent up supply.  Both Pfizer and Moderna delivered 45 million doses at the end of the year.

Once that is gone, contractual spread of doses through end of June is only 30 million per month for Moderna and 24 million for Pfizer.  This is best case and assume no delays or logistic issues.

 

That means a J&J or Oxford needs to fill a large gap.

 

100 million doses in in first 100 days was the plan all along.

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I am optimistic that cruising will resume. Of course the question remains when. 
Today my optimism was nurtured by news on another board that Azamara has added one more ship to its brand. The last addition is the former Pacific Princess. After all, it seems that the new owners have plans to continue with the brand. It is good to read those news in these moments when most of the information is Covid related. 
Ivi

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2 hours ago, travelberlin said:

I am optimistic that cruising will resume. Of course the question remains when. 
Today my optimism was nurtured by news on another board that Azamara has added one more ship to its brand. The last addition is the former Pacific Princess. After all, it seems that the new owners have plans to continue with the brand. It is good to read those news in these moments when most of the information is Covid related. 
Ivi

I am also optimistic that we will someday figure out a way to manage this outbreak and/or learn to live with this virus somehow.

 

However, I think the sale of Pacific Princess by Princess/Carnival and subsequent purchase of that ship by the new owners of Azamara is very much related to the outbreak.  From what I read, Carnival is disposing of some of their ships (less popular/less profitable ships???) as a cost-cutting measure.  I suspect that Pacific Princess was sold at a very attractive price, since right now buying a cruise ship is not considered a good short term investment.  It is clear that Sycamore Partners is counting on cruising to resume sometime, so that they can sell Azamara to someone else, and they decided to pick up another matching ship at a discount (now they have four matching R ships) so that they can possibly sell the whole product at a higher price.

 

Actually it is extremely hard to find any travel news that is not related to the outbreak at this time.

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More optimism in USA. In press conference this afternoon Joe Biden says looks like manufacturers are going to come through with more vaccines. 

And if we want to do more as Dr Fauci said today two masks make a lot of sense. Tomorrow I am double masking.  I think everyone should do this. 

 

Keith

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