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Indians await WHO nod for home-grown vaccine to travel abroad

PANDALAM (KERALA), INDIA :  Stuck in a village in southern India for nine months and unable to return to his job in Saudi Arabia, Sugathan P.R. is hoping the World Health Organisation (WHO) will approve the Indian Covid-19 shot Covaxin, paving the way for his trip back.

Like Mr Sugathan, millions of Indians have taken Covaxin and many have complained of travel struggles as the vaccine has not been recognised for international travel by several countries.

"I cannot continue to remain idle here any further," said Mr Sugathan, 57, who returned to Pandalam village in Kerala in January to be with his family after missing his father's funeral last year when the pandemic disrupted flights.

"I had the option of going to Saudi and taking (additional doses of) Covishield after a four-day institutional quarantine, but I was not sure of its implications on my health," he said, referring to AstraZeneca's vaccine.

"If the Covaxin approval does not come, I will take the risk of going and taking a Saudi-approved vaccine," he added, sitting in his spacious two-storey house fronted by paddy fields.

FINAL CALL

The WHO was expected to take a final call on an emergency-use listing for Covaxin yesterday.

Without a WHO nod, the two-dose Covaxin is unlikely to be accepted as a valid vaccine globally and would complicate travel plans for Indians who have taken it. - REUTERS

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