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Medical experts share travel options for vaccinated people

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared vaccinated Americans to travel again, but some immunized travelers remain on the fence about making summer plans.  

Is it finally safe to fly? What about visiting unvaccinated relatives or traveling with young children?  

CNBC Global Traveler asked medical professionals — all of whom are involved in treating or researching Covid-19 — to share their travel plans this summer. Here are their responses, in their words.

Summer travel is ‘unlikely’

“It’s unlikely I’ll be traveling this summer … I’m concerned that the proliferation of variants, existing or new, is setting the stage for a replay of last summer’s ebb and flow Covid-19 surge pattern. I’m also concerned that vaccine hesitancy … or supply and access issues will limit our ability to reach herd immunity in the short term.” 

“We only have to look as far as recent Covid-19 surges in countries like Canada or states like Michigan to see how vaccine supply issues and variant spread can lead to a dangerous surge with wide impact.”

There’s nothing wrong with a wait and see approach right now. 

Mark Cameron

Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine

“[My kids] are desperate to get out of the house and into a theme park this summer but that’s just not in our cards right now. I still think that there will be relatively safe ways to travel this summer, and that there’s nothing wrong with a wait and see approach right now.”

“Fully vaccinating, moving our bubble with us, and maintaining the infection control measures that have kept us safe so far, even if not mandated, would be part of the plan.”

—Mark Cameron, epidemiologist and associate professor at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine

Only from one home to the other — by car

“I am not traveling this summer, except to travel by car from our place in New York City to our home in the country. Under normal circumstances, we would travel extensively, including abroad. But this year, we will spend most of our time in our country home, since it is much easier to avoid close contact than it is in the city or when traveling afar.”

“When we do have to come into the city, we will do so by car. And when we arrive, we will avoid public transit, crowded venues and indoor activities.”

This is not yet the time to let up….

William Haseltine

President, Access Health International

“Being vaccinated didn’t change my behavior or my summer travel plans. There are new variants … emerging with regularity, and the vaccines will not be equally effective against them all. Because of this, I and all those in my immediate family are taking the same precautions after vaccination as we did before we were vaccinated. That includes avoiding unnecessary travel.”

“When we do need to go into public places, like to the post office or the grocery store, we wear N95 masks and a face shield, a combination that has proven effective even in indoor healthcare settings of significantly cutting down the risk of infection.”

“If some members of our extended family are required to travel over the summer, we’ll be asking them not to visit us until at least two weeks post travel — that includes the adults that are vaccinated and the children who are not.”

“This is not yet the time to let up on the public health measures that can help us control the pandemic.”

—William Haseltine, former professor at Harvard Medical School and current president of Access Health International; author of “Variants! The Shape-Shifting Challenge of COVID-19”

Yes, but in the same region  

“The family trip we are taking this summer will be semi-local. We plan to get to the Jersey Shore [to rent] an efficiency apartment … enjoy the hiking, the beach and the pool and will bring our food with us. We will be driving so that we can easily bring everything.”

Dr. Sharon Nachman said a consideration for her family’s summer travel plans to the Jersey Shore was “how easily we could get back in case of an emergency.”

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“By bringing our own food, we cut down on the need to go to areas that may be crowded or unsafe. By looking at locations that had a variety of outdoor activities, we can get the fresh air and sunshine we have been missing for the past several months.”

“[My children] have all been vaccinated, but our grandkids have not been. With careful planning, we plan to visit and play with them this summer.”

—Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the pediatric infectious disease division at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

Travel plans are undecided

“I do not have concrete plans yet. I live in California, and I may decide to visit the local destinations within driving distance with my husband for a few days just for a break. We may also decide to fly to Hawaii. Hawaii requires testing prior to departure and on arrival. My husband and I are well adults and are both vaccinated now, and that is in part why we are comfortable with the idea of considering domestic travel at this point. We will definitely be masking and wearing eye protection during travel.”

For longer flights, Dr. Supriya Narasimhan said she would consider booking a business class ticket because “the empty middle seat doesn’t exist anymore, flight operators are flying fewer trips, and many are fairly full.”

Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

“International travel is a whole different consideration. We would like to visit family in India in the summer because we have not seen them for the last 18 months, but India is experiencing a surge. … people do not reliably mask on flights and the era of empty middle seats is [in the] past, so contracting Covid during travel is a very real risk, made more complex by emergence of new variants.”

“In my institution’s experience, post-vaccination Covid is rare, and we have yet to see a severe case post vaccination. I trust in our vaccines, but I will do my part to decrease my risk even further by masking diligently when I am around others.”

—Dr. Supriya Narasimhan, chief of infectious diseases at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center

Definitely traveling, but only domestically

“My wife and I will be traveling by plane to visit relatives on the East Coast. We will be wearing masks and be conscious of maintaining social distance throughout the terminal as well as while on board.”

“Both my wife and I are fully vaccinated as are the family we will be visiting. The vaccine roll-out and the impact on state-mandated pre- and post-travel testing and post-travel quarantines [were] crucial to our plans. If there had still been quarantine requirements, we would have delayed traveling until these were lifted — not due to fears of infection but merely due to the practical implications.”

Dr. Charles Bailey said he plans to clean surfaces on his flight, including seat arms and controls, tray table and seat pocket “lip.”

Craig Hastings | Moment | Getty Images

“If our travel plans had included young children who had not yet been fully vaccinated, we would have considered the CDC recommendation for pre- and post-travel testing as well as possible implications of a post-travel quarantine period in regard to return-to-school dates.  Ascertaining any requirement or expectation by the schools they would be returning to in the fall would have been a reasonable idea as well.”

—Dr. Charles Bailey, medical director for infection prevention at Providence St. Joseph Hospital and Providence Mission Hospital

Going abroad this summer

“Similar to many Americans, my family also has plans to travel this summer. This summer, four of our family members would like to travel to Lima, Peru, and take a journey to discover the many pleasures of this country, including the historical Machu Picchu. Seventy-two hours before boarding the airplane we will get a PCR Covid-19 test to protect ourselves and others.”  

“Airport and mass transit is expected to be more congested than in the last year.  Therefore, it is highly recommended that all travelers are vaccinated.  As healthcare providers, my wife and I are both fully vaccinated, and our [adult] children will be vaccinated before our travel activities.”

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Russia authorizes use of one-shot Covid vaccine

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A woman is administered with Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine at a sports arena on May 4, 2021 in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines.

Ezra Acayan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON — Russia on Thursday authorized the use of a one-shot coronavirus vaccine called “Sputnik Light,” according to the country’s sovereign wealth fund, a move designed to boost vaccine supplies in countries with surging infection rates.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund said Sputnik Light, a slimmed-down vaccine developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute, has an efficacy rate of 79.4% and would cost less than $10 a dose.

RDIF said the shot, the first component of the country’s flagship two-dose Sputnik V vaccine, is compatible with standard vaccine storage and logistics requirements.

It claims one of the potential uses of the single-shot vaccine is for the immunization of a larger number of people in a shorter time frame, noting it can be shipped at speed to a country in the midst of an acute outbreak.

RDIF said late-stage Phase III trials involving 7,000 people were underway in Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Ghana, among other countries. Interim results were expected later this month.

Phase I and Phase II results of the single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine found the shot demonstrated safety for all subjects and no serious adverse events were registered, it said.

“The single dose regimen solves the challenge of immunizing large groups in a shorter time, which is especially important during the acute phase of the spread of coronavirus, achieving herd immunity faster,” Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of RDIF, said in a statement.

Dmitriev said that while Sputnik Light had “an affordable price” of under $10, the two-dose Sputnik V vaccine “remains the main source of vaccination in Russia.”

“The Sputnik Light vaccine will be exported to our international partners to help increase the rate of vaccinations in a number of countries in the face of the ongoing fight with the pandemic and new strains of coronavirus,” he added.

As of Wednesday, RDIF said over 20 million people around the world had received their first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine.

“Sputnik Light will help to prevent the spread of coronavirus through the faster immunization of larger population groups, as well as supporting high immunity levels in those who have already been infected previously,” Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, said in a statement.

“Sputnik Light offers strong value in initial vaccination and re-vaccination, as well as boosting efficacy when taken in combination with other vaccines.”

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France and Britain deploy navy patrol boats to Jersey in dispute over fishing rights

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HMS Tamar is deployed as French fishing boats sail into harbour to protest against new fishing licenses on May 6, 2021 in St Helier, Jersey.

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LONDON — France sent two navy patrol boats to the British Channel Island of Jersey on Thursday as tensions with the U.K. grow following the latter’s departure from the European Union.

The latest French move follows the U.K. government’s decision on Wednesday to send two of its own military boats to the region. Comments by France’s Maritime Affairs Minister Annick Girardin sparked the British move, after she told French lawmakers that France could cut supplies of electricity to Jersey — a small self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom that lies between England and France.

The core of their dispute is over fishing rights.

French fishermen are angry and have complained of tougher conditions placed upon the issuance of fishing licenses. A group of French vessels sailed to Jersey’s port of St Helier on Thursday to protest.

However, authorities in Jersey have denied these accusations, saying they are following the rules established in the U.K.-EU trade deal when issuing fishing permits.

The French maritime affairs ministry was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the U.K. government said Wednesday: “To threaten Jersey like this is clearly unacceptable and disproportionate.”

The island’s main source of electricity comes from France.

The European Commission, which negotiated the trade deal with the U.K., said on Thursday that the bloc is engaging in good faith to solve the dispute with the British government.

Fisheries were one of the main stumbling blocks in trade negotiations between the U.K. and the EU. While the U.K. was a member of the EU, fishermen from both sides could work in each other’s waters and sell fish freely within the Union.

However, this freedom changed slightly in January, once the U.K.’s transition period out of the EU ended.

Under the new trade agreement, EU boats can continue to fish in U.K. waters, but U.K. fishermen will get a higher share of fish from U.K. waters through a phased-in approach. The deal also says that the U.K. could end the right of EU boats to fish in U.K. waters after 2026.

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IPOs are making top investors a fortune — now amateur traders want in

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Coinbase employees spray champagne during the company’s initial public offering (IPO) outside the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

LONDON — Stock market listings are making founders, venture capitalists and large institutional investors a fortune. Now, retail traders are looking to get in on the action by using a slew of new digital investment platforms.

David Middleton, an M&A advisor based in Warrington, England, bought shares of companies that listed recently, like Palantir, Snowflake and Coinbase, on the stock trading app Freetrade.

“For me it was just a case of: I just like the sound of the business,” Middleton told CNBC over the phone.

Middleton, who is a member of London-based financial education website Finimize, says it’s been a “bumpy road” when it comes to his investments, but that he’s in it for the long term. So far, he’s made a gain on his investments.

“I’m not someone that goes into massive amounts of financial details — there are so many other things that affect share prices,” he added. “I don’t really care what happens in the short term. It could go up or it could go down. I sort of just want to be there for the ride.”

Several platforms have emerged over the years that let amateur investors own a small slice of companies in both the public and private markets. In venture capital, equity crowdfunding services like Crowdcube and Seedrs have long allowed start-ups to raise funds from users, the idea being that this bolsters the relationship between customers and brands.

On Thursday, Crowdcube will launch a secondary market called Cubex, which lets existing shareholders offload some of their stakes in privately-held businesses to retail investors. The platform pulls in data from Crunchbase, a site that shows insights on start-ups, to provide users with information about the companies it lists.

“What we’ve done well over the past 10 years is to enable ordinary people be able to invest in exciting companies,” Darren Westlake, Crowdcube’s CEO and co-founder, told CNBC.

“Our marketplace will list thousands of European companies, the idea being retail investors can come into the platform, use powerful search and discovery tools on the platform and customization to be able to find companies that are of interest to them.”

It’s a particularly timely product launch, especially as a flurry of European tech start-ups look set to go public in the coming months. This year has already seen the likes of Deliveroo and Darktrace enter the public markets, and several other firms are mooted to list soon, including Wise, WeTransfer and Klarna.

Investing in IPOs

Novice investors are increasingly looking to buy into companies’ debuts. Deliveroo let its customers and the general public invest in its IPO through a platform called PrimaryBid. However, due to something called conditional trading restrictions, these investors were locked into their positions until a week after Deliveroo’s first day of trading. The food delivery firm’s shares slumped sharply in its debut, becoming one of the worst London IPOs in history.

“Enabling retail investors to get access to the IPO at the same stage as institutional investors is vital to the market,” said Westlake, who invested £1,000 ($1,390) into Deliveroo via PrimaryBid.

In Britain, some investment platforms are lobbying for the government to let retail investors take part in IPOs to help level the playing field between individual and institutional investors.

“As it stands, retail shareholder rights are almost completely ignored when it comes to the vast majority of IPOs, which largely take place between City institutions behind closed doors,” the CEOs of the CEOs of Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell and Interactive Investor wrote in an open letter to City Minister John Glen in February.

The U.K. Treasury department — which is currently looking to reform London’s listings regime — was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Stateside, Robinhood is reportedly developing a platform that would let its users buy into IPOs, including its own, according to Reuters. The company played a key role when retail traders piled into highly-shorted stocks like GameStop and AMC. Robinhood faced criticism from users for restricting trading in such shares due to volatility and regulatory requirements.

Robinhood declined to comment on Reuters’ report.

Avishek Das | LightRocket | Getty Images

Meanwhile, a U.S. firm called Forge provides a marketplace similar to Crowdcube’s that lets users invest in pre-IPO companies. The company recently raised $150 million from investors including Wells Fargo and Temasek.

Making early bets

Some investors want to back companies at the earlier stage of their journey, in the hope of securing sizable gains by the time a firm floats or is acquired.

Equity crowdfunding sites already let consumers buy shares of early-stage companies. But now some venture capitalists are looking at ways of giving individual investors exposure to their start-up bets.

In the U.K., Passion Capital, an early investor in digital bank Monzo, opened up its third fund to the public through Seedrs. The move meant anyone could become an investor in Passion Capital’s new fund — a role usually limited to pension funds and family offices — and would therefore benefit if the fund’s portfolio rises in value.

“We’ve already heard from other venture fund managers who were just as excited about this, and who have told us they’ll also be using Seedrs to do the same in the near future,” Eileen Burbidge, founding partner of Passion Capital, told CNBC.

Burbidge said she saw a link between the Reddit-fueled stock market frenzy and her initiative.

“Clearly one of the guiding themes was to try and diminish some of the impact of ‘faceless’ hedge funds and bring some of that ‘market power’ to the retail investor,” she said. “Access to market impact, exposure and assets that have been historically been preserved for institutions or the ‘wealthy’ for more individuals is a good thing.”

But, she added, individual investors should be informed of the risks involved before making such investment decisions.

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