November 27, 2021

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Travelers with Covaxin can enter US after vaccine gets EUL from WHO

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Foreign tourists fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with Covaxin have been given the green light to enter the United States starting Nov. 8.

The Centers for Disease Control said the vaccine would be added to its list of acceptable vaccines for foreign travelers Wednesday after the World Health Organization granted Covaxin emergency use listing.

“CDC’s travel guidance applies to FDA approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listing vaccines and encompasses any new vaccines that may be added to either of those lists over time,” CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund told USA TODAY.

The last-minute addition comes less than one week before the U.S. launches its new travel system, which grants entry to foreign travelers who have received a vaccine that has been approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug administration or WHO.

► From vaccines to testing: What travelers need to know before the new US travel system on Nov. 8

► ‘You feel lonely and left out’: These fully vaccinated travelers want to visit the US. They may not be allowed in.

The new U.S. travel rules will also accept travelers fully vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Covishield, Sinopharm and Sinovac.

There are some exceptions to the vaccination requirement, including travelers under 18. Travelers must also take a coronavirus test before arrival. 

Before Wednesday’s announcement, the CDC had planned to allow travelers vaccinated with Covaxin to enter the U.S. only if they had been participating in a phase three trial of the vaccine. 

Covaxin, developed by the Indian biotechnology company Bharat Biotech in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research, has a 78% efficacy rate against COVID-19 and is “extremely suitable” for low- and middle-income countries because it is easy to store, according to WHO.

The vaccine is popular in India, and Bharat Biotech has said it has received emergency use authorization in several other countries including Mexico, the Philippines, Iran and Paraguay. 

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.