US President Joe Biden announced earlier today that travel restrictions for foreign nations would be relaxed somewhat in the coming months. From November, the Biden administration plans to allow international passengers to fly into the United States if they are fully vaccinated. But for Indians looking to travel to the western nation there might be a secondary hurdle to overcome.
The rules will apply to all adult foreign nationals and is intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from passengers travelling internationally. "We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to develop a protocol that'll permit travel by individuals and families and business people from EU and UK, as well as from Brazil and India and other countries, to the United States with proof of vaccination," a senior US administration official was quoted as saying.
There are presently six vaccines that have been approved for emergency usage in the country, with more than 81 crore doses of Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V being administered. As per data from the CoWIN dashboard on Tuesday morning, around 20.8 crore people in the country are fully inoculated. The other vaccines have not yet been made available to the public.
Numbers aside, even as India inches closer to the 100 crore vaccination mark, many of the inoculated individuals remain restricted by their choice of jabs. While the US has not yet released a list of acceptable vaccines, it must be kept in mind that two of the jabs used in India (Covaxin and Sputnik V) are still in the process of getting approval from the World Health Organisation. Other medical bodies such as the European Medicines Agency do not accept any of the three jabs.
According to a Financial Times report, the US Centers for Disease Control is drawing up a list of acceptable vaccines for travellers. Presently the country has authorised the use of BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson jabs, and officials suggest that the AstraZeneca vaccine is also likely to be accepted. It is not yet clear whether jabs used in some countries including China and Russia will be accepted by US authorities.
In other related news, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden are slated to hold their maiden bilateral meeting later this week. The two leaders have spoken virtually on multiple occasions since assuming their posts. Their last telephonic conversation was on April 26.
Biden will host Modi at the White House for their first bilateral meeting on September 24. Later on that day, Biden will host the first-ever in-person Quad Leaders' Summit at the White House with Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
(With inputs from agencies)