Travel cos expect more nations to accept Covaxin

Travel cos expect more nations to accept Covaxin

Travel service providers expect more countries to ease travel requirements for Indians vaccinated with Covaxin even as the World Health Organization (WHO) this week sought additional clarifications from Bharat Biotech before granting emergency use licence (EUL) for its Covid vaccine.

Oman added Covaxin to the approved list of Covid-19 vaccines for travel on Wednesday, lifting quarantine requirement for passengers from India who have received two doses of the vaccine at least 14 days before the estimated arrival date.

Travel platforms said they are seeing an uptick in bookings for destinations that are accepting Covaxin such as Greece, Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

“While WHO acceptance opens the doors to multiple global destinations and is certainly of value, individual governments can take an independent call,” said Romil Pant, senior vice-president, leisure travel at Thomas Cook (India). “And, of course, what is a clear positive is that several destinations such as Dubai, Maldives, and Russia offer entry irrespective of vaccine status with checks and balances like RT-PCR being in place,” he said.

“With the WHO expecting to reconvene for the final risk-benefit assessment for Covaxin on November 3, we are hopeful of an approval this time round,” Pant said.

Nishant Pitti, CEO of EaseMyTrip, said that while countries are not bound by WHO suggestion and can decide on their own to recognise Covaxin, approval by WHO will work as a shot in the arm. “A significant part of our population is vaccinated with Covaxin. The approval will further enable more travellers to visit their favourite international destinations,” he said.

Ixigo said countries such as Serbia have recognised Covaxin based on a ‘mutual acceptance’ of vaccines, while Oman has possibly approved it for ease of travel of Indian nationals.

“Similarly, for ease of travel and to attract tourists, Mauritius is also accepting Covaxin,” the company said.

“Global acceptance of Covaxin will definitely ease international travel plans for Indian travellers who are currently vaccinated with Covaxin but cannot travel or have to face mandatory quarantine due to current restrictions.”

Subhash Goyal, chairman of STIC Travel and Air Charter Group, pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some cabinet ministers have taken Covaxin and it has been cited as being effective against the Delta variant.

“Some people have preferred Covaxin over Covishield seeing encouraging findings. Some countries are recognising Covaxin bilaterally,” he said. “So, the sooner WHO recognises it the better. There should not be unnecessary delays just because it is from a developing country.”

Daniel D’Souza, president and country head at SOTC, said he is hoping for positive news for travellers doubly jabbed with Covaxin. “As per a recent report, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given clearance to Covaxin with certain riders. If more countries approve of Covaxin it will enable Indians to pursue their long-pending travel plans,” he said.

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