Switzerland has approved Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin as a valid vaccine for travel from India, and several countries may gradually follow as the government steps up diplomatic pressure now that the vaccine has finally received WHO emergency clearance, said a source.
“The Indian government has been holding bilateral discussions with a large number of countries, where Indians have travel interest, for mutual recognition of vaccines. Our various diplomatic missions are playing an active role in this. Now that Covaxin has been approved by WHO, our position has strengthened. Hopefully, we will receive many more validations soon,” said the source tracking the matter.
While a large number of countries allow fully vaccinated Indians to travel to their country, they only recognise Covishield, which received emergency approval from the WHO earlier this year.
Just about a dozen countries, such as Mauritius, Oman, Philippines, Nepal, Mexico, Iran, Sri Lanka, Greece, Estonia and Zimbabwe, recognise Covaxin as a valid vaccine for travel so far as it got WHO approval only last week. The Centre’s bilateral efforts may, however, expedite matters.
The UK, for instance, may give its approval to Covaxin soon, as talks are underway, a source told BusinessLine. But countries would want to go through all their established processes before approving the vaccines.
“The UK will continue taking a phased approach to extending our vaccinated arrivals policy. Work is ongoing, including with international partners, to determine which other non-UK vaccines we might recognise in the future,” said a British High Commission spokesperson in response to BusinessLine’s query on the approval for Covaxin.
According to a response from the Canadian High Commission, Covid drug and vaccine submissions are prioritised and reviewed on an expedited timeline, above the usual performance standards, without compromising safety, efficacy and quality standards due to the public health need. The Hindu BusinessLine