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India enters into vaccine pacts with 96 countries

India has entered into agreements for mutual recognition of vaccination certificates with as many as 96 countries, including the US, Canada, the UK and several EU members for easing of travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, said Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.

But this may not automatically lead to approval for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which received WHO’s emergency use nod last week, as the agreements are subject to domestic regulations of partner countries. While countries such as the UK and Switzerland have agreed to accept vaccines that are part of WHO’s EUL, others such as Canada have their own processes in place for approving a vaccine.

Nod for Covishield
Covishield, the Astra Zeneca Covid vaccine manufactured in India, received WHO approval as early as February this year, and is being recognised in over 60 countries.

“Canada does not review every vaccine the WHO has accepted. For a vaccine to be reviewed and approved in Canada, the manufacturer of the vaccine needs to submit an application with all data and evidence as to the clinical trials conducted and the scientific data about its safety and efficiency,” pointed out an official from the Canadian High Commission.

Bharat Biotech needs to submit its application to Canada to review this vaccine, the official added, pointing out that as per the information on Health Canada website on Tuesday morning, an application from the company has not been made yet.

The official websites of several countries with which India has entered into a mutual recognition agreement for vaccine certification, such as the US and the Netherlands, do not include Covaxin in the list of approved vaccines.

Germany, another country with which mutual recognition has been reached, requires that travellers vaccinated with Covishield must have their vaccination certification with their passport numbers and date of birth as Aadhaar number is not sufficient.

Negative PCR report
Persons vaccinated with Covaxin, or any other vaccine that is not yet recognised by the Paul Ehrlich Institute (an agency of the German Federal Ministry of Health) must carry a negative PCR test report, which is not older than 72 hours on entry in Germany.

Other countries with which India has entered into agreements on recognition of vaccines include Bangladesh, Nepal, Iran, Mauritius, Oman, Kuwait, Australia, Philippines and several countries in South America and Africa.

“The Union government continues to be in communication with the rest of the world so that beneficiaries of the world’s largest Covid vaccination program are accepted and recognised, thereby easing travel for education, business and tourism purposes, said Mandaviya. The Hindu BusinessLine