The United States will reopen in November to air travelers from 33 countries including China, India, Brazil and most of Europe who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the White House said on Monday, easing tough pandemic-related restrictions that started early last year. President Joe Biden announced that beginning in early November, the United States will be putting in place strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from passengers flying internationally into the United States by requiring that adult foreign nationals traveling here be fully vaccinated. But what does this mean for India whose vaccines are not yet authorised? News18 breaks down the latest in international travel for you:
Which vaccines will be accepted?
Foreign nationals will need to present proof of vaccination before travel and will not be required to quarantine on arrival. The White House said the final decision on what vaccines would be accepted is up to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC on Monday pointed to its prior guidance when asked what vaccines it will accept.
“The CDC considers someone fully vaccinated with any FDA-authorized or approved vaccines and any vaccines that (the World Health Organization) has authorized," said spokesperson Kristen Nordlund. That list could change pending additions by either agency, she said.
What about Indian vaccines?
Covaxin, Bharat Biotech’s India-made vaccine, was not given approval for emergency use in the United States by the FDA. Rejecting Covaxin’s application for emergency use authorisation in the US, the FDA sought more data on the clinical trials for the vaccine, the complete extent of which is still lacking.
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin Covid-19 vaccine has been facing hurdles gaining foreign approvals since the Phase 3 trial data is essential for validation from the World Health Organization (WHO) as well, which will allow the Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company to export its Covid-19 vaccine and make it a part of the much-coveted “vaccine passport".
The AZD1222 vaccine, also being produced under licence by the Serum Institute of India (SII) as Covishield and approved for human use by the U.K. and European medicines regulators, is pending a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) application.
Will children need vaccination too?
Exceptions include children not yet eligible for shots. Airlines heavily lobbied the White House to lift the restrictions, and it has been working since August on the new plan.
reading into the US move
President Biden has been under pressure from European politicians and major airlines to lift the restrictions, reported Wall Street Journal.
The announcement came as the US was facing diplomatic blowback in Europe after its withdrawal from Afghanistan and a security agreement the US crafted with Australia and the UK, which has roiled Washington’s relations with France.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the travel restrictions on Friday with Philippe Étienne, the French ambassador to the US, according to a senior administration official. The official added that diplomatic considerations played a role in the decision to lift the restrictions, but said the policy was guided by science.
Airlines and other travel companies had pushed for months to ease restrictions that have decimated some of the most lucrative markets, but industry officials said Monday’s announcement was unexpected as recently as last week and details of how the policies will be implemented haven’t yet been worked out.