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  • Muskan Arora

International Travel Without the Jab: Columbus Energy?

The United Kingdom is reporting almost 30,000 new coronavirus cases everyday. This is in result of the ease in the restrictions within the country. Meanwhile, even though European countries started jabbing their citizens late, their speed of vaccination is exponentially increasing. This is not only a sign for the UK to start taking the situation seriously but also to pace up the process of vaccination. As India has imposed restrictions on international flights till the end of September and the European Union is ready to impose new restrictions on travellers from the US, it reminds us of the havoc caused when Christopher Columbus travelled around the world spreading diseases like smallpox and measles, which turned into a frightening pandemic.

Even though centuries have gone by, reviewing the current situation only reminds us of the horrors witnessed when the sea explorer threatened the homo sapiens. Columbus gifted us with coffee, horses, grapes, wine and turnips but caused an epidemic of deaths. In Native America, when coffee and horses entered the land, they carried multiple microbes against which no person living had any immunity and thus caused numerous deaths in a short span of time.

“European contact enabled the transmission of diseases to previously isolated communities, which caused devastation far exceeding that of even the Black Death in fourteenth-century Europe,” according to a 2010 paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives titled “The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas.”

In the modern world, there have been multiple myths around Covid vaccine. On 29th August, 2021 people of Berlin led a protest against the government as they have been imposing stricter restrictions on people who are not vaccinated.

“Berlin police said on Twitter it had detained about 80 people at the demonstration, with a focus on violent people or those calling for violations of coronavirus regulations,” wrote Reuters.

The voyage that began in 1492, is very similar to the ravaging pandemic of 2020. Through his different voyages to discover places around the globe, in most places, the multiple new diseases and viruses killed around one half of the children below the age of six. The coronavirus has been very deadly to adults and as the virus is mutating into different forms, its impact is deadly on different age groups. The second wave of the pandemic was very deadly for sugar patients and the number of deaths witnessed as compared to the first wave were high. The complete lockdown hardly supported the spread of the virus. Nonetheless it was a good decision by the government as it prevented the faster spread of the virus. It was the origin of mental health problems, increased domestic violence and pulled the world into an almost economic crash. Each country has devised their own travel restrictions, which now I think could have been very useful when Columbus was discovering different countries but the only lacuna was - the media. The United Kingdom was very intricate in planning their travel restrictions by dividing the whole world into three lists: red list, amber list and green list.

The main difference between how Columbus caused the spread of diseases and the spread of coronavirus is the access to information and medical facilities. Scientists and medical professionals are still working to curb the diseases spread in 1492, whereas we had an upper hand due to the availability of the vaccine within two years of the pandemic. Moreover, it was easy for a large group of people to function together and stay indoors. The collective motive to stop the spread of virus was spread through media (be it social media or traditional media), which also helped to spread the information about all upcoming facilities and changes we can expect globally.

At this point people who are travelling around the globe without even the first jab, definitely are symbolic of the energy Columbus had. Nonetheless, the consequences would be worse if people don’t get jabbed or continue to travel without jab. They would be putting themselves or their loved ones in the danger of death, in short, they could be the carriers. However gutsy it sounds on social media to travel without a jab or even travel after your vaccination, it is really dangerous.

It is advised by UNICEF to get jabbed and stay indoors as much and always protect yourself when in public.

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