In another sign of Australia warming up to international travel, the country has recognized India’s Covaxin for establishing a traveler’s vaccination status. The announcement came on November 1st – the day Australia eased international border restrictions for the first time after more than a year and a half. While most countries have recognized India’s Covishield vaccine, Covaxin, too, is gradually being endorsed by many.
Covaxin added to the list
On Monday, Australia’s regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), gave the green signal to India’s Covaxin, which can now be used to establish a traveler’s vaccination status. The TGA issued a statement:
“Today, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) determined that Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech, India) and BBIBP-CorV (manufactured by Sinopharm, China) vaccines would be ‘recognised’ for the purpose of establishing a traveller’s vaccination status”
It further added,
“This will have significant impacts for the return of international students, and travel of skilled and unskilled workers to Australia.”
The move was also recognized by high officials and diplomats, including Australia’s high commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, in a tweet.
I thank my dear friend @ScottMorrisonMP for Australia’s recognition of India's COVAXIN. It is an important step forward in the post-COVID partnership between 🇮🇳 and 🇦🇺.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 1, 2021
Get your boarding pass to the flight of the year. The Future Flying Forum is taking off soon!
Recognition of Indian vaccines
The Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine that goes by the brand name Covishield in India has been recognized by most countries worldwide, including Australia. Covaxin, on the other hand, hasn’t enjoyed universal acceptance so far.
But things are changing. Apart from Australia, 15 other countries, including Greece, Mexico, Iran, Estonia, and Sri Lanka, have recognized Covaxin for travel purposes. Prime Minister Modi emphasized the importance of accepting Indian vaccines and stated at the G20 summit in Rome,
“I want to tell you all that India is ready to produce more than 5 billion vaccine doses for the world next year…Therefore, it is necessary that Indian vaccines are approved by the WHO at the earliest.”
WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said that independent experts have asked for additional clarifications from Covaxin producer Bharat Biotech before making a final assessment on November 3rd.
Australia ready to embrace international travel again
Australia enforced some of the strictest border restrictions in the world during the COVID pandemic. On November 1st, the country finally eased travel restrictions allowing its vaccinated public to travel freely. Australians can now cross the border and come back without the need to quarantine as long as they are fully vaccinated.
At the moment, travel is limited to Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate families, but this could be a sign of things to come.
Qantas resumed its iconic QF1 flight to London on Monday after more than 18 months, allowing travel-starved Australians to visit the UK again. The flight, operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, departed Sydney at 18:15 local time for its 23+ hour journey to London, which includes a short fuel stopover in Darwin.
Australia has also entered into an agreement with Singapore for a two-way quarantine-free travel corridor between the two countries that starts on November 8th.
While it’s still not as simple as picking up your passport and taking a flight out, it’s good to see more and more countries getting comfortable with the idea of international travel.