With just a few weeks left for the academic year to begin in foreign universities, students now face the hurdle of the lack of recognition and approval of Indian Covid-19 vaccines abroad. If Astrazeneca's Covishield is not approved soon, they will be treated as ‘not vaccinated’ abroad despite being administered both the doses here. They may also be left with no option but to get vaccinated again abroad with another vaccine.
Till date, 16 European countries and Canada, Brazil and Argentina, amongst others, have approved Covishield. However, study destinations like Italy, Russia, Denmark, Czech Republic and Poland have not yet approved the Indian vaccine.
Dhananjay Vora, a student planning to study literature from a university in Russia said, "I have taken both the doses of Covishield. If I am treated as ‘not vaccinated’, then I may have to take the vaccine again in Russia. This means I will be vaccinated two times. I am apprehensive about the mixture and effect of two different vaccine doses on my health. It seems quite obscure and risky.”
Oindrilla Moulik, a student planning to pursue a Master’s degree in International Relations from Italy said, "I took both the doses of Covishield in advance so that I would be considered as fully vaccinated and not face any issue during my travel. But, now, my vaccination certificate seems useless, because I will be treated as ‘not vaccinated’. My course begins in September. I fear I might be subject to unnecessary quarantine and isolation during transit or on arrival." "Also, students are taking the vaccine to prevent any risk of contracting the virus. If countries are not approving the Indian vaccines, does it indicate that I am not protected from the virus infection at all? Are Indian vaccines not effective as per international standards?"
Though the World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved Covishield, European Medicines Agency (EMA), the agency in charge of the scientific evaluation of vaccines, has not authorised the use of the vaccine in the European Union (EU).
A student planning to study in Denmark on request of anonymity said, "My course is slated to begin from September 1 via offline lectures on campus. The Indian authorities and diplomats of foreign countries should push for the approval and recognition of Covishield soon so that students do not have face any hurdles."