Australia okays Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for travel ahead of WHO meet

Australia okays Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for travel ahead of WHO meet

Australia on Monday recognised Covaxin for the purpose of establishing a traveller’s vaccination status, two days before the World Health Organization meets for final assessment of the emergency use listing of the made-in-India vaccine.

The backing of Australia could tip the scale in favour of Covaxin when the WHO meets on November 3. Asserting India’s prowess in vaccine manufacturing, Prime Min­ister Narendra Modi at a G-20 summit session in Rome on Saturday said it was necessary that the WHO approves Indian vaccines “at the earliest”.

A technical advisory group of the WHO had sought additional clarifications from for Covaxin to conduct a final risk-benefit assessment for emergency use listing of the vaccine.

Besides Australia, countries that have recognised Covaxin for travelers include Nepal, Zimbabwe, Iran, Philippines, Mauritius, and Mexico. Apart from Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Australia has recognised BBIBP-CorV manufactured by Sinopharm, China, as an eligible vaccine for travellers. The recognition is for travellers aged 12 and over who have been vaccinated with Covaxin, and those 18 to 60 who have been vaccinated with BBIBP-CorV.

In a statement, Thera­peutic Goods Administration (TGA) under Australia’s health department said: “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.”

TGA has received supporting information from the vaccine sponsor or the WHO. Australia allows travellers who have taken the Covishield shot. “Many citizens of China and India as well as other countries in our region where these vaccines have been widely deployed will now be considered fully vaccinated on entry to Australia.”

The move is likely to have a significant impact on the return of international students, and travel of skilled and unskilled workers to Australia.

The Australian authority has said those who have received two doses of a TGA-approved or recognised vaccine at least 14 days apart are regarded as fully vaccinated from seven days after the second dose. This includes homologous — two doses of the same vaccine and heterologous — two doses of two different TGA-approved or reco­g­nised vaccines schedules.

Last week, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention had put Covaxin on the list of qualifying Covid-19 vaccine candidates, under the category of “participants in certain vaccination.” The WHO has so far approved Covid-19 vaccines of Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-SK Bio/SII, J&J, Moderna, and Sinopharm for emergency use.

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