Just weeks after White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr Fauci said that Covaxin was found to neutralise the B.1.617 variant, now the Indians who received the Covaxin shot may lose out on travelling across the border. As countries gradually open up to vaccinated foreign travellers, Indians who received Bharat Biotech's Covaxin may not qualify for travelling as several countries are yet to approve the vaccine.


Covaxin and controversies

India's home-grown vaccine Covaxin was approved for emergency use, amidst a lot of criticism, on January 3 in the absence of complete Phase 3 trial data. Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with National Institute of Virology and the ICMR, is currently accepted in only nine nations other than India.

These are Guyana, Iran, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Paraguay, the Philippines and Zimbabwe. Covaxin is not yet a subject of trial anywhere outside of India, whereas for Covishield simultaneous trials ran in UK and India. So far, 1.9 crore Indians have been administered Covaxin.

India dismisses reports on Covaxin

Prakash Javadekar
Prakash Javadekar

The Government of India on Saturday, dismissed the reports that claimed Indians vaccinated with Covaxin may not qualify for travelling abroad. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said during a press conference that such claims and reports were baseless.

"The WHO has not taken any decision on banning people from travelling abroad who have been vaccinated with Covaxin. Covaxin is one of the most effective vaccines to date," he said. In February, the company had issued a statement, that it was in the process of filing regulatory documents for approval of its Covid vaccine in more than 40 countries.

WHO on Covaxin

As of April 8, 2021 WHO evaluated and notified that four vaccines against Covid-19 met the necessary criteria for safety and efficacy, namely AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, Johhnson and Johnson's Covid vaccine, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine. It must be noted that most countries, if and when they open up to foreigners, are likely to only allow people vaccinated with the shots mentioned in the WHO's EUL list.

On the current status of Covaxin's approval, WHO site states, "Submitted expression of interest on 19/4/2021. More information required." As for pre-submission meeting, it states, "To be planned May-June."

world health organisation
world health organisation

Countries that accept SII's Covishield

While Pfizer, the vaccine developed by BioNTech was the first vaccine to receive authorisation for emergency and regular use and is among the most widely used vaccines, Covishield has also garnered widespread approval. Over 130 countries accept Covishield vaccine that has been developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, both of which joined hands with Serum Institute of India to manufacture and ship the vaccine across the globe.

Covaxin approved for Phase II and III clinical trials for children

While the spokesperson and officials from the company are yet to issue a statement on the reports, meanwhile the clinical trials will soon begin to test Covaxin's efficacy in children aged 2-18. V.K Paul, Niti Aayog's Member Health said, "Covaxin has been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials in the age group of two to 18 years."