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India Raises Concerns Over Demand for Re-vaccination of US-bound Students as Covaxin Not Approved

A healthcare worker fills a syringe with a dose of Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine 'COVAXIN' in AIIMS, Delhi. (Reuters)

A healthcare worker fills a syringe with a dose of Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine 'COVAXIN' in AIIMS, Delhi. (Reuters)

Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla raised the issue with the acting US ambassador Daniel Smith on Wednesday.

There is a growing concern among Indians who have a taken the Covaxin jab whether it would be recognised for travel abroad. There is an even greater concern among Indian students bound for US, who face the prospect of re-vaccination on their campus for want of a WHO approval for the Bharat Biotech COVID-19 vaccine.

Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla raised the issue with the acting US ambassador Daniel Smith on Wednesday. Sources have told CNN-News18 that there was no clear response from the US as matter pertains to individual universities. However, Ambassador Smith agreed to put forward India’s perspective and concerns of students.

Advanced third phase trial results of Covaxin are still awaited. Bharat Biotech is currently carrying out its phase 3 trial and it will publish the data in July following which it plans to apply for the full licensure of Covaxin.

There was an inter-ministerial meeting alongwith Bharat Biotech representatives in May to figure out the progress of a WHO approval for Emergency Use Listing. The company had then informed the authorities that they had submitted 90% of the relevant documentation and were aiming at wrapping up the rest by June.

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US CDC guidelines clearly state: “People are considered fully vaccinated: 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. If you don’t meet these requirements, you are NOT fully vaccinated."

It adds that the “guidance can also be applied to COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (e.g. AstraZeneca/Oxford)."

Going by the guidelines, Covaxin vaccination so far does not meet US criteria of fully vaccinated. However, that will not prevent students from travelling to their campuses. They need a negative RTPCR report of 72-hours for travel.

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