Students planning to study abroad queue up for Covishield as Covaxin not on list of vaccines approved by foreign countries

Ronald RodriguesUpdated: Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 11:51 PM IST
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A health worker incolutates a man with a dose of the Covishield Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a school used as a vaccination centre in New Delhi on May 11, 2021. | (Photo by AFP)

Mumbai: Faced with just a single vaccine option and racing against time, students planning to study abroad are queueing up for Covishield, as it is on the list of vaccines approved by most foreign countries. In a rush to get inoculated, this section of the 18-44 age group, is desperately seeking Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured locally by the Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune, over the indigenous Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad, but are facing difficulties in booking slots on the Central CoWin portal.

Students with a deadline looming over their heads, are scrambling to get vaccinated as their academic years in universities abroad are set to begin by August-September. Naumaan Siddique, a student planning to pursue a Master’s degree in Canada said, “I need to fly to Canada by September, as my course will begin on October 1, 2021. As per the Government of Canada website, Covishield is approved. There is no information about the approval of Covaxin, so I do not want to opt for it.”

Siddique said, “I have been trying to book a Covishield vaccine slot for the last seven days but there are none available. First of all, there are limited slots and then I am only looking to book one for Covishield, which reduces my options. By the time I wait for an OTP or the web page to load, slots are already booked.”

Students planning to study in Ireland are exempted from mandatory hotel quarantine if they are fully vaccinated with Covishield. But they have to complete self-quarantine at home, as per the Government of Ireland website.

Cara Rebello, a student who has received admission in an Ireland university, said, “I do not want to take Covaxin and then pay an extra Rs 1.70 lakh for a 12-day mandatory hotel quarantine when I arrive in Ireland. The slots for Covishield are getting filled very fast. I hope I get the vaccine slot because I have just three months left, in which to be completely vaccinated and get going.”

“There is a rush of students for vaccination because we have very little time and all of us are waiting for Covishield,” said Mridul Agarwal, a student planning to study in the United Kingdom (UK). Agarwal said, “I am desperately waiting to complete my vaccination. Other international vaccines such as Pfizer or Moderna are not yet available in India, so students planning to study abroad must necessarily opt for Covishield as it is accepted and approved by major countries.”

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