We were poised to re-start expeditions in 2022, but as we write this, Omicron is upon us.
We have just (in late November) placed our first two expeditions of 2022 (Arabia and Kenya) on a warning. This means that we now believe that there is a higher than 50% chance that we will have to defer these expeditions again.
Like everyone else on the planet, we can but wait, plan, react and adapt. So here is our plan:
1. We will keep monitoring the situation and re-open expeditions as soon as it is reasonable to do so.
2. We will start another survival fundraiser if this new wave of the pandemic threatens our survival.
3. Once we restart expeditions, we will take all reasonable precautions necessary to protect our citizen scientists, staff, helpers and the wildlife we are honour-bound to protect. This means that
(A) only fully vaccinated people (with certifications proving their vaccination status) will be allowed on the expeditions. All available vaccines will be accepted. The last vaccination must not be older than six months.
(B) Those that are not fully vaccinated may be allowed to take part if (i) there is a certified medical reason why they cannot be vaccinated – in that case they must provide a negative rapid / lateral flow / antigen Covid test immediately prior to the expedition commencing and will need to be re-tested at regular intervals during the expedition, or (ii) if their country of origin has not offered vaccinations to them – for local staff we will try to compensate for this via private vaccinations where they are available; where this is not possible, the testing scheme as above will apply.
(C) We will also require a rapid / lateral flow / antigen Covid test from each expedition member immediately prior to the expedition commencing and may repeat this test at regular intervals, as needed.
(D) Expedition leaders will also be fully vaccinated. As far as possible, we require all others (scientists, rangers, cooks, all other support staff who will come in contact with our citizen scientists) to be fully vaccinated too. For countries where this is an issue, we will have testing regimes and/or a vaccination programme for our local partners, where necessary, via private healthcare.
(E) Although there will be common threads (vaccinations, tests, hygiene procedures) on all expeditions, the exact procedures will vary from country to country. We will publish what the exact procedures are about six to seven weeks before the expedition starts, alongside your reminder to start preparing and settle your balance.
At the time of writing, only three people have complained about this and have been removed from the expeditions until such time that they see sense or that anti-vaxxers no longer present a danger to others.
Stay healthy, stay safe, keep up your spirits and wish us good fortune to get through this, as we do all readers.
All of us at Biosphere Expeditions