Australia recognises Covishield vaccine: Looks forward to welcome Indian students
Visiting Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan has said that his country is "warmly looking forward" to welcoming back Indian students to the country as Canberra gives a nod to Covishield for international travellers. The development comes even as Australia is all set to reopen its borders in November after months of closure amid the pandemic.
Tehan, speaking to reporters in New Delhi, said the Australian side giving the go-ahead for Covishield, "means the pathway for our Indian international students to return to Australia is there again.
With semester one starting in February/March next year, those international students will be able to start returning towards the end of this year and towards the beginning of next year. Can I say to all those Indian students that we are warmly looking forward to welcoming them back to Australia? We can't wait. It's terrific news."
Australia's department of health's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has declared the Covishield (AstraZeneca/Serum Institute of India) vaccine as a ‘recognised vaccine' for purposes of travel into Australia.
TGA, in its initial assessment of the data on the protection offered by the Indian-made vaccine, advised it for travel purposes, along with China's Coronavac (Sinovac). The TGA is responsible for regulating the supply, import, export, manufacturing, and advertising of therapeutic goods in the country.
The number of Indian students currently enrolled in studying in Australia is around 90,000. The number of Indian students going to the country continues to grow, and this forms an important people-to-people linkage between the two countries. People who have received vaccines not recognised by the TGA, or who are unvaccinated, will be required to undertake 14 days of managed quarantine on arrival.
The problems faced by Indian students were raised by the Indian external affairs minister with his Australian counterpart, Minister Payne, during the 2+2 dialogue in Delhi in early September. During the talks, he urged that the difficulties faced by the students due to travel restrictions be "sympathetically addressed as soon as possible."
Asked about the Indian vaccine Covaxin's approval by Australia, the Australian trade minister said, "It is still before WHO, so obviously those steps need approval process and then TGA has to look into it.". The World Health Organization is expected to take a call on Covaxin's authorization on October 5.