US allows entry to fully vaccinated adults. Can Indians travel?
The United States is set to reopen air travel for passengers who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. India is among the 33 countries from where travelers will be allowed to enter starting this November, the White House announced on Monday. But what does this move mean for Indians, who have received vaccines that are not yet authorized in the US? Find out here.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a person fully vaccinated if they have received a shot approved either by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO). That list may change subject to additions by either body. Foreign nationals will be required to furnish a vaccination proof before travel and will not have to quarantine upon arrival.
Covishield, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, has yet to be approved by the US FDA. However, it has been given the nod by the WHO. That means people vaccinated with this jab will be allowed to travel to the US without facing restrictions. Covishield is locally produced by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII).
India's indigenous COVAXIN, developed by Bharat Biotech, has neither been approved by the FDA nor the WHO. Its application for emergency use authorization was rejected by the FDA in June this year as the agency asked for additional data from clinical trials. Nevertheless, a WHO approval for the shot is expected by the end of this month, reports say.
Sputnik V is another vaccine being used in India, however, it remains unapproved both by US authorities and the WHO. India has three other approved jabs (Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Zydus Cadila), but has not started administering them, mainly due to supply issues. Notably, children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated will be exempted from the US' travel rules.
Meanwhile, the UK has also announced new COVID-19-related travel rules, requiring Indians fully vaccinated with Covishield to undergo mandatory 10-day quarantine. The move invited sharp criticism from Indian officials and leaders. In fact, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has taken up the issue with his British counterpart. India also said it may impose a similar rule for UK travelers if the restriction is kept.