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NEW DELHI: Australia on Friday recognised Serum Institute of India manufactured covid-19 vaccine Covishield, allowing overseas travellers who have received the jabs to enter the country.

Austraia's drug regulator Therapeutic Goods Administration said that following an initial assessment of data on protection offered by China's Coronavac (Sinovac) and Covishield, developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India under a license, it has been decided that these will be considered "recognised vaccines" for the purpose of determining incoming international travellers as being appropriately vaccinated.

The development is significant for a large number Indian students willing to travel to Australia for studies. The announcement, however, didn’t clarify when Australia will open for international travel.

"Australia is ready to take its next steps to safely reopen to the world, with changes coming to the international border. Our government is setting out the framework for how international travel will look in coming months," said a statement from the office of Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, adding that many countries have now safely reopened to international travel and it will shortly be time for Australia to take the next step.

Testing will continue to be a requirement of international travel, but subject to medical advice, Rapid Antigen Tests may be used, it said. Australia has already approved vaccines from Pfizer (Comirnaty), AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria), Moderna (Spikevax), and Janssen.

Italy last week recognised Covishield paving way for Indian vaccine card holders to travel to the European country.

The UK last week had updated its travel advisory accepting Covishield as an 'approved vaccine' but said Indian travellers would still require to undergo a mandatory quarantine on arrival, sparking controversy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking at the global Covid-19 Summit held virtually last week, had raised the issue of mutual recognition of vaccine certificates among countries after the move by the UK. “We also need to focus on addressing the pandemic’s economic effects. To that end, international travel should be made easier through mutual recognition of vaccine certificates," the PM had said.

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