The UK’s expanded list of approved vaccines would pave the way for thousands of Chinese students with Sinovac and Sinopharm shots to attend UK universities. Source: Ryad Kramdi/AFP

UK-approved vaccines now include China and India’s shots, making travelling to the UK easier for international students who have been fully immunised with them.

A notice by the Department for Transport and Department of Health and Social Care on Monday said the following vaccines are approved: Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen, Sinovac-CoronaVac, Sinopharm Beijing and Covaxin. 

“Formulations of these vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, also qualify as approved vaccines,” it said. 

UK-approved vaccines

UK-approved vaccines now include Sinovac, Sinopharm and Covaxin. Source: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP

Travelling to the UK more convenient with vaccine approval 

According to Bloomberg, the UK is following Australia, which expanded the number of shots it recognises last month, and the US, which said it would accept all WHO-approved vaccines when it opened its borders to foreign travellers this month. 

Sinovac and Sinopharm shots are the most widely used in China, which has vaccinated more than 80% of its 1.4 billion population. 

The addition of China vaccines under the list of UK-approved vaccines would pave the way for thousands of Chinese students with these shots to attend school in the UK.

An October report by UCAS — a UK universities admission service provider — shows that UK universities have received record numbers of undergraduate applications from Chinese nationals. 

The UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows that China accounts for the majority of international students in the UK, and their families contribute significant revenue to universities there each year.

More than 4,500 Chinese students applied for undergraduate admission to colleges and universities in the UK this year, an increase of about one-third since the pandemic began. 

In 2019-20, there were 538,615 international students studying in the UK; 142,985 of these were from the EU and 395,630 were non-EU. Chinese students make up the largest cohort, with 139,130 studying in the UK in 2019-20.

Those without UK-approved vaccines can still enter England but are required to get COVID-19 tests and quarantine for 10 days. Upon arriving in England, students must quarantine at home or in the place they are staying.