China’s Sinovac Shot Approved by Australia Ahead of Border Opening
(Bloomberg) -- Australia recognized China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Covid-19 shot and India-made AstraZeneca Plc jabs, paving the way for overseas travelers and fee-paying foreign students who have received those vaccinations to enter the country.
The nation’s top drugs regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, said the shots should be “recognized vaccines” in determining incoming travelers as being inoculated, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday.
Australia is starting to unwind some of the world’s most intense pandemic border restrictions as vaccination rates across the country approach as key threshold of 80%. Recognition of Beijing-based Sinovac’s shot, which has been approved by the World Health Organization for emergency use, contrasts with the U.K. and neighboring New Zealand, which are yet to endorse it.
A number of European countries have said they will accept the vaccine, known as Coronavac, as part of programs for vaccinated entry. The U.S. indicated similar when it announced plans to open entry to most vaccinated foreigners last week.
Friday’s announcement potentially opens the door to thousands of foreign students that have been shut out of Australia during the pandemic. International education is a lucrative source of revenue for the country, worth A$14.6 billion ($11 billion) to the state of New South Wales alone in 2019.
“Very soon, we’ll be able to open those international borders again,” Morrison told reporters. “This will start happening from next month.”
Vaccines made by Sinovac and the state-owned Sinopharm are among the most used in China, and have efficacy rates ranging from around 50% to 80% in preventing symptomatic Covid, lower than the mRNA vaccines developed out of the U.S. Sinovac is also one of the most-deployed Covid shots globally, used from Indonesia to Brazil and Turkey. Chile said earlier this week it would start administering it to children age six to 11.
Covishield, also recognized Friday, is the name of the AstraZeneca Plc shot made by India’s Serum Institute, the world’s biggest vaccine maker.
More than 57,000 students are estimated to be overseas, according to the government of New South Wales. Chinese nationals are Australia’s biggest source of international students followed by those in India, Nepal and Vietnam, according to the Australian Trade Department.
The decision Friday could also be seen as a potential olive branch from Australia, which has been on the receiving end of criticism and trade blockages from China since it asked for a global inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.
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