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Delay in approval of Covaxin jab by WHO to Indian travelers

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Sugathan PR has received two doses of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin Vaccine.

Pandalam:

Stranded in a village for nine months and unable to return to his job in Saudi Arabia, Sugthan PR is hoping the World Health Organization will approve the COVID-19 shot Covaxin, paving the way for his journey.

Like Mr Sugathan, lakhs of Indians have taken Covaxin and many have complained of travel conflicts as the vaccine is not recognized for international travel by many countries.

Sugathan, 57, who returned to Kerala’s Pandalam village in January to be with his family after missing his father’s funeral last year, said, “I can’t be idle here anymore.”

Referring to the AstraZeneca vaccine, Mr Sugathan said, “I had the option of going to Saudi after four days of institutional quarantine and taking (additional doses) Covishield, but I was not sure about its effects on my health.”

“If Covaxin’s approval doesn’t come, I’ll risk trying and taking a Saudi-approved vaccine,” he said while sitting in his sprawling two-story house in front of the paddy fields.

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said after a meeting on Tuesday that its independent experts had sought “additional clarification” from covaxin maker Bharat Biotech for a final evaluation on November 3.

The global agency has been considering data supplied by Bharat Biotech since early July, but has said it cannot “cut corners” in making a decision.

Without WHO approval, two-dose covaccine is unlikely to be accepted as a valid vaccine globally and will complicate travel plans for Indians taking it.

Rajan Pallivadakethil Unnunni, 59, who worked as a welder in Kuwait for two decades before coming to India late last year, has been unable to return because Kuwait does not recognize Covaxin.

He is now struggling to pay off his $20,000 bank loan and earns $4 a day by selling chicken at a small stall in Kerala.

“If I can’t go back to Kuwait, I won’t be able to repay the loan and complete my children’s education,” said Rajan, sitting on a plastic stool in front of his shop.

“I can buy tickets to Kuwait only when the Kuwait government app is flagged.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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