Australia’s decision on Monday to accept Bharat Biotech-manufactured Covaxin as a “recognised” vaccine for the purpose of determining a traveller’s vaccination status has come as a big boost for India’s first-indigenous Covid-19 vaccine as it awaits emergency approval from the WHO. Australia had already approved AstraZeneca-manufactured Covishield for travel last month, reports The Hindu Business Line.
While Covaxin is pending WHO approval and is not recognised by a majority of countries, including the US and the UK, India has worked the diplomatic channels for mutual agreements with about a dozen nations to facilitate entry of Indians vaccinated by Covaxin. Covaxin has thus far been approved for travel in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Iran, Mauritius, Greece, Zimbabwe, Mexico and the Philippines.
The Ministry of External Affairs is in negotiations with several others, including many European nations, for mutual recognition of vaccine certifications, so that WHO recognition ceases to be a mandatory condition. One such agreement has already been struck between India and Hungary last month and the government is hopeful of more success soon.
Modi lauds decision
Australia’s move to recognise Covaxin will have significant impact for the return of international students, and travel of skilled and unskilled workers to Australia, according to a statement released by Department of Health, Australia on Monday. Australian health regulatory body, Theraupatic Goods’ Administration (TGA), has also approved BBIBP-CorV, manufactured by Sinopharm, China, for travellers aged between 18 and 60.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his appreciation for Australia’s decision. “It is an important step forward in post-Covid partnership between Indian and Australia,” Modi tweeted.
The Australian health regulator said recognition of Covaxin, and BBIBP-CorV, along with the previously announced recognition of Coronavac (manufactured by Sinovac, China) and Covishield (manufactured by AstraZeneca, India), means many citizens of China and India will now be considered fully vaccinated on entry to Australia.
“In recent weeks, the TGA has obtained additional information demonstrating these vaccines provide protection and potentially reduce the likelihood that an incoming traveller would transmit Covid-19 infection to others while in Australia or become acutely unwell due to Covid-19. The supporting information has been provided to the TGA from the vaccine sponsor and/or the WHO,” the TGA statement said.