Indy doctor: We may never know if travel bans curb spread of coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The United States and other countries have reinstated international travel bans.

Travelers not from the United States coming from South Africa, Zimbabwe and other territories are no longer permitted inside the U.S. borders as surveillance for the omicron variant of the coronavirus is on high alert.

While no cases have been detected in the United States, health authorities are saying it’s likely the mutation is already here.

So, what does the evidence say? Are travel bans an effective strategy or just a false sense of protection? 

“I think the rationale was to try to slow the spread if possible of omicron through air travel,” Dr. Shaun Grannis, vice president of data and analytics at the Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Institute, told News 8. “Could it have the impact of slowing the spread? It may. But, it’s hard to know what impact a policy decision like this will have because you can’t really do the experiment.”

Essentially, while the theory of suspending international travel may seem to be a sound protective measure to keep out the omicron variant, Grannis says, it’s likely we’ll never know. 

In the meantime, the medical doctor encourages people to continue mitigation measures already in place: social distancing, masking, vaccination and others.