10 November 2021, Virtual
London, UK - November 2021
London, UK - December 2021
Healix International's Dr. Adrian Hyzler talks:• The implications of the Covid-19 delta variant• The future of vaccine passports• Procedures for restarting business travel
Healix International chief medical officer Dr. Adrian Hyzler spoke
with BTN editorial director Elizabeth West about the
current landscape surrounding Covid-19, the delta variant, vaccinations
and business travel. Edited highlights follow.
eight months since we last talked, when the clinical trial results
for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had just been publicised. What is
your perspective of the vaccine rollout?
Dr. Adrian Hyzler: I
was doing cartwheels about how amazing the data was that came out from
Pfizer. That is still the case. Pfizer and Moderna remain those stellar
examples of incredible vaccines that have maintained that initial joy.
Since then, other vaccines have come out. The Sputnik from Gamaleya
Institute in Moscow, the Chinese vaccines, AstraZeneca, Johnson &
Johnson. From a worldwide perspective, we've seen [some] countries surge
ahead, like the US, the UK, Israel and some smaller countries that
have done very well in vaccine rollout.
Europe started slowly,
they had problems with acquisition of vaccines and with arguing amongst
themselves. But now …they have just overtaken the US in the [per cent
of adults vaccinated]. But in Southeast Asia, for example, they've got
huge issues with vaccine rollouts. In Japan, in South Korea, [they are
having issues now] because it was never a big priority. The same in
Australia and New Zealand – they didn't prioritise vaccines because they
had low numbers. They thought they could wait to see how the vaccine
rollout went, how problems went with vaccines. But I don't think they
realised that vaccines were going to be so scarce and that production
wouldn't ramp up as hoped. Latin America is slowly getting their vaccine
drive going with vaccines from China and Russia helping out there. In
Africa, the availability of vaccines is incredibly low.
We’re trying to encourage [organizations] to look at their travelers from a medical point of view and risk-rate how likely they are to get severe disease if they were to contract Covid-19.”
are seeing signs that the delta variant is setting back some companies'
return-to-office and return-to-business travel plans.
efforts ramped up a lot this year with the vaccination drives. In April
and May there were plenty of plans to reopen offices in June and July. A
lot of it was controlled by governments which for a long time gave
directives to work from home if you can. Those restrictions have been
released recently, and there is the desire to get people back in the
office. There's now information, though, about Google, about Apple …to
say a planned back-to-the-office in September has now been pushed back
to October. I think that's a holding position and we'll see more of it.
BTN: What about business travel?
is definitely a desire from many governments to get business travel
going. The variants have just got in the way of that. Each time it
looked like things are going to open up, another variant, whether it was
alpha or the beta from South Africa or the gamma from South America.
Now delta has reared its ugly head. People don't want others bringing
delta into the country.
BTN: There's an argument that delta
is already around. It's not a case of bringing it to a certain country,
particularly if you can screen passenger health.
delta is not trying to be suppressed in countries but trying to be
managed, then I think we can move on to business travel
equivalence [across borders]. Travel across Europe has become quite
common, and the same will happen between the States and Europe, as well,
once it's accepted that delta is widespread. But then, there's lambda,
which has taken over Peru and spread into Chile. We still don't really
know epidemiological consequences of that as regards to case numbers and
hospitalisations – and there will be other variants.
BTN: We've seen digital health passports launch in Europe. Do you think similar tools will help get things going outside of Europe?
was very important in the EU that they didn't call this a vaccine
passport. It was a digital immunity pass. It doesn't just encompass
vaccination. It encompasses a negative test, negative PCO, or someone
who has been recently infected and recovered from Covid-19 and has
immunity through natural infection. It didn't mean you had to be
vaccinated, but there were other alternatives to exempt you. There's not
going to be a universal immunity pass in the States. It's just not
going to happen. There are too many factions that will absolutely never
accept it. In that case, you're having to rely on a piece of paper, and
there are going to be plenty of different pieces of paper from all sorts
of different organisations that are going to have to interpret it
around the world. I think that is going to be a bit of a stumbling
BTN: Have you seen business travel for Healix International clients beginning to ramp up?
lot of the companies we look after – quite large multinational
clients – are trying to get travelling. It's to a small extent for
important meetings that need to be face-to-face. We're trying to
encourage [organisations] to look at their travellers carefully from a
medical point of view and risk-rate how likely they are to get severe
disease if they were to contract Covid-19. That's what companies we're
dealing with are [using to] decide who travels and who doesn't, because
it's very hard to look after people abroad if they get Covid and they
get admitted to the hospital and they're in intensive care. We're trying
to avoid people getting to that situation.
BTN: That is a
different answer than I expected. What about privacy issues – do
travellers want to share that level of health information with their
Hyzler: Probably en masse, they don't. Not
wishing to plug what Healix is doing, other organisations are doing the
same thing, but we are looking after that privacy. [Travellers] are
declaring health conditions on an online form that gets processed by
Healix. The output has no medical information. It [would] be much more
difficult if that were being shared with the parent organisation, but