There is “considerably more than a 75% chance” the 2021 summer season can be saved based on current scientific strides towards finding a Covid-19 vaccine, delegates at the Virtual ITT Conference heard on Wednesday (30 September)
Making the prediction, FTI Consulting senior advisor Tim Hames presented an optimistic outlook for the industry’s recovery once a vaccine has been discovered.
“Money and momentum behind this effort [for a vaccine] has been mobilised like no other example in human history," he said.
Hames, a former lecturer in politics at Oxford University and a special advisor to the Speaker of the House of Commons, is writing a book on the Covid crisis.
He assessed there were currently “about half a dozen really serious contenders” entering phase three trials worldwide, including two “really viable options” in the UK.
Those with “cautious optimism” would predict an announcement of a workable vaccine as “more than 50% likely” by the end of the year, said Hames – although he stressed the process of moving to wide-scale vaccination was “far from a simple one”.
Hames said a vaccine, rubber-stamped by the end of October, could see a chance of significant roll out this side of the winter flu season, “which would be a huge advantage”.
However, Hames said if an announcement was not to be made until December, “the reality is serious vaccination wouldn’t start by 2021”.
Different vaccines would also need different infrastructures and logistics in order to be given to the public, he added.
Following his assessments, Hames said he believed those working to find a vaccine would be “surprised and disappointed” if by early February 2021, most consumers looking to book holidays for the summer weren’t confident they would have received a vaccine by the time they travelled.
He said it would be “extremely optimistic” to think a vaccine would rescue the upcoming Christmas season, but suggested it was “not inconceivable” a significant numbers of travellers could be inoculated by February to take advantage of the European ski season.
“They’ll have a certificate of vaccination and they’ll be able to travel in a pretty normal fashion,” he predicted. “The good news is there is light at the end of the tunnel on vaccines.
"I think there’s considerably more than a 75% chance that much of summer 2021 can be rescued and at least a 70% chance – probably more – that the ITT Conference in Istanbul in June 2021 will go ahead pretty much in its usual fashion.”