Sinovac and Covishield will be considered “recognised vaccines” for “incoming international travellers to be regarded as appropriately vaccinated” but are not approved for use in Australia.
It’s for the money.
International students injected $31.9 billion into Australia’s economy last financial year, directly boosting Australian jobs and wages – including in regional Australia.
The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures – released today – confirm international education income grew by $3.8 billion in the financial year to June 2018 to reach $31.9 billion.
China’s Sinovac, India’s Covishield recognised in Australia, giving hope to international students
…Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has recognised China’s Sinovac vaccine — and Covishield, an Indian-made version of AstraZeneca — for incoming international travellers.
Those vaccines are not approved for use in Australia — so people living here will not be offered them — but Sinovac and Covishield will be considered “recognised vaccines” for “incoming international travellers to be regarded as appropriately vaccinated”.
However, some are disappointed that Sinopharm — which is widely used in China and has been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) — along with India’s Covaxin, have not yet made the cut.
The change in regulations comes as Australia prepares to lift its ban on international travel for states with 80 per cent vaccination some time next month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday.
That will allow fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents to quarantine at home for seven days, rather than undertaking hotel quarantine for 14 days, upon their return but will not apply to international students at first.
Nevertheless, the new vaccine recognition was welcomed by international students such as Ms Xu.
“I am very happy about the new policy. Now I think I can at least see the hope of returning to Australia on a student or visitor visa,” she said.
Australia’s university sector has taken a huge a financial hit, with revenues falling $2.2 billion last year, largely because of a drop in international students.
“The Chinese community has a significant contribution to the Australian economy,” Ms Xu said.
“The Australian government will not explicitly say that it wants the Chinese students to return to Australia as soon as possible. It will make some concessions by relaxing the policy on the vaccine.”
Council of International Students Australia president Belle Lim said that, when NSW announced a pilot plan last week, she feared the vaccine requirement would exclude students from China and Nepal.
However, she hoped the TGA’s recognition of Sinovac and Covishield would help change that.
“We think that this is great news for students [who] have been stuck overseas for 18 months,” she said.
“These students have the right to receive the education that they paid for.”
In the TGA’s initial report, it assessed six vaccines “that have been widely deployed in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as in national vaccination programs in countries such as China and India, from which Australia normally receives many international arrivals”.
In its advice, the TGA said it had insufficient data to recognise four vaccines at this stage — including China’s Sinopharm and CanSino jabs, India’s Covaxin from Bharat Biotech, and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the international border will reopen next month for states that have reached 80 per cent vaccination rates, starting with New South Wales.
Fully vaccinated Australians and permanent residents arriving in NSW will be able to home quarantine for a week, instead of paying thousands to quarantine at a hotel for a fortnight, pending the success of the state’s home quarantine trial.
Commercial flights out of Australia will resume for vaccinated Australians.
Mr Morrison said the government would consider quarantine-free travel between some countries, such as New Zealand, “when it is safe to do so”.
“It’s time to give Australians their lives back,” Mr Morrison said.
Travellers must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine to home quarantine, unless they are under 12 or medically exempt.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has advised that the Chinese-made Sinovac and the Indian-made Covishield vaccines would be considered “recognised vaccines” when determining whether an incoming international traveller has been appropriately vaccinated.
The recognition of those vaccines will remove a significant barrier for international students seeking to study in Australia.
Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and the Janssen vaccine are already recognised in Australia.