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These Countries Have Approved Covaxin, But Travel For Indians Remains Distant Dream

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: November 03, 2021, 18:26 IST

An inside view of Kushinagar International Airport. (Image: PTI Photo)

An inside view of Kushinagar International Airport. (Image: PTI Photo)

Australia recently approved Covaxin, but it currently doesn't operate direct flights to and from India under an air bubble pact.

The Technical Advisory Group (TAG), an independent advisory committee of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has recommended Emergency Use Listing (EUL) status for Bharat Biotech COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin ending months of back and forth on a decision that massively impacts the travel rights of Indians.

Before WHO’s approval, several countries have given their individual nod to Covaxin to ease international travel and allow passengers to enter their geographies. These include Iran, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Oman and Greece.

However, those vaccinated with Covaxin cannot travel to all the countries that have approved the Covid-19 vaccine and that will not change despite WHO’s stamp given India’s air bubble agreement and a ban on international flights.

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Indian aviation authority Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) extended the suspension on scheduled international passenger flights till November 30, 2021. The ban has been in place since the pandemic began in March last year.

However, India has formed air-bubble pacts with around 28 countries, including the US, UK, UAE, Kenya, Bhutan and France. Under an air-bubble agreement between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines with specific restrictions.

Basis the air bubble agreements, Indians who have taken Covaxin can only travel to Oman, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

While here are some of the countries that Indians, jabbed with Covaxin, cannot take a direct flight to:

Greece: Indians arriving in Greece are required to show a Covid-19 vaccine certificate, a negative RT-PCR report of less than 72 hours, or a negative antigen test less than 48 hours old. People do not need to quarantine unless Covid symptoms are observed on arrival. However, there are no direct flights operating with India and Greece and people have to take indirect flights through other European cities. Currently, no major European countries have approved Covaxin.

Australia: Australia is the latest country to approve the Bharat Biotech vaccine. It approved Covaxin, manufactured by Bharat Biotech, and BBIBP-CorV, manufactured by Sinopharm, China and recognised the two for the purpose of establishing a traveller’s vaccination status. However, the country doesn’t have air-bubble pact with India that allows direct flights. Currently, indirect flights to Australia have layover in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Tokyo airports. However, all the three countries haven’t approved Covaxin.

Philippines: Travellers who are vaccinated with Covaxin are allowed to go to the Philippines. However, India doesn’t run direct flights to the country, passengers have to take to alternate routes to travel.

Mexico: Mexico’s health regulator has authorised the emergency use of Covaxin. But the country is not among the 28 countries that India has signed pact under air bubble.

Mauritius: Indians who are vaccinated with the Bharat Biotech’s vaccine can travel to Mauritius, but India is not directly operating flights to the country.

In the case of indirect flights to the countries authorising Covaxin, yet not under air bubble pact with India, the guidelines and requirements of the layover depends on the country’s Covid-19 restrictions.

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first published:November 03, 2021, 16:06 IST
last updated:November 03, 2021, 18:26 IST