While seafarers’ vaccine rates improve, the industry is cautioned of the new variant’s wrench
Rates of seafarers’ inoculation have steadily increased as reflected in the latest Neptune Crew Change Indicator. The new variant however is persistently making things trickier for seafarers, even implying the return of crew change due to revised border protocols.
New protocols imposed
January 2022’s indicator showed that the number of seafarers onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contracts has decreased from 4.7 per cent to 3.7 in the last month, the lowest recorded since May 2021. The number of seafarers onboard for over 11 months has also decreased from 0.7 per cent to 0.4. This latest reduction substantiated the situation’s improvement, as observed since September 2021. As the data was dated 15th December 2021, the most recent effects of Omicron were not reflected in January’s findings.
The report added aggregate percentage of vaccinated seafarers has risen from 49.5 per cent in December to 59.8 in January. In comparison, the share of the population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in several large shipping nations in Europe, North America and Asia is close to or above 70 per cent. Although the rates of seafarer vaccinations remain behind those of large shipping nations, the gap between vaccinated seafarers and seafaring nations is closing. Some countries witnessed stagnation while seafarer vaccination rates continued to increase significantly month-by-month.
In spite of the positive news, the industry has to remain vigilant. Contributors to the Indicator highlighted developments which impacted crew change in the last month – mainly from the new Omicron variant. Countries have reinstated their border restrictions which jeopardised crew change. Nevertheless, higher rates of seafarers’ vaccination and replacement reflected correct actions from shipowners. It is certainly not wise to halt all progress in fear of the new variant.
Crewing Online News Team
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