As some European Union countries get ready to reopen their borders to welcome vaccinated travellers, Indians who have taken Covaxin may not be qualified to travel abroad, as many countries are yet to approve India’s homegrown vaccine.
Importantly, the Covaxin has not made it to the World Health Organisaton’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) of vaccines.
According to the WHO website, the “EUL assesses the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as risk management plans and programmatic suitability, such as cold chain requirements”.
This assessment is done by the product evaluation group, made up of regulator experts from world over and a technical advisory group. The WHO has listed the Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK Bio (Covishield vaccine produced in South Korea), Serum Institute of India (Covishield vaccine), Janssen and Moderna vaccines for emergency use.
According to multiple reports, over 130 countries have accepted the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield vaccine for entry into the country. On Bharat Biotech’s website, it says that apart from India, only eight countries have approved Covaxin, namely Guyana, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Paraguay, Philippines, Zimbabwe.
The latest WHO guidance document shows that Bharat Biotech has submitted its Expression of Interest (EoI) but "more information is required".
However, a peer-review publication Clinical Infectious Diseases has noted that Covaxin demonstrates protection against the new Covid-19 variants.
The study found that vaccination with Covaxin produced neutralising titres against all key emerging variants tested including B1617 and B117, first identified in India and the UK, respectively.
A modest reduction in neutralisation by a factor of 1.95 was observed against the B1617 variant compared to the vaccine variant.
Top officials in the country said this week that they will begin clinical trials to test the Covaxin vaccine's efficacy in children between two to 18 years of age in 10-12 days.
"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. I have been told that trials will begin in the next 10-12 days," V.K. Paul, NITI Aayog's Member Health, had said.
(With inputs from IANS)