As the world struggles with a striking vaccine inequity, India is among the countries facing a dire situation of shortage of vaccines. The land, which is considered the largest producer of vaccines, is now grappling with a crippling shortfall of the life-saving doses. This situation has left numerous students planning to fly abroad for higher studies in a chicken and egg situation.
While some states like Maharashtra, Kerala, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh have given priority to students going abroad regarding inoculation and have started special vaccination drives, students in many states are yet to get clarity over the issue. Universities that have made vaccination compulsory have stated that the immunization done will be validated only if WHO-approved vaccines are administered. As many as 360 public and private universities in the US require students to get vaccinated before joining classes.
The population of India is being administered mainly two vaccines – COVISHIELD, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and the indigenous COVAXIN, manufactured by Bharat Biotech. COVAXIN is still not approved by WHO, which has put many students in a state of confusion and worry. For example, on the Canadian Government Website, COVISHIELD is recognized and approved in Canada, but there is no mention of COVAXIN whatsoever.
While some students have got at least one dose, many students from states like Delhi and Rajasthan are yet to get the first dose as the states have halted the vaccination drive for the age group 18-44 due to the unavailability of vaccines. Another glaring issue is the increase in the gap between the two doses. The interval between the doses of COVISHIELD, which is approved in many nations, is now 12 weeks. This is concerning for students as the admission season (fall season) is about to start in countries like the US, which is considered a hotspot for international students.