Hope Returns For International Students- COVID-19 Vaccine Rollouts in Global Study Destinations

The last year was a roller-coaster ride for international students, and now their hopes to return to their study abroad plans are pinned on the COVID-19 vaccine. Thankfully, many countries are now rolling it out, and several are even fast-tracking the rollouts. It’s great news for study abroad aspirants as they will be able to move to their chosen destinations sooner once the populations there are immunised. It makes sense to learn more about the popular countries and their likelihood to open their doors to students in the near future so that students can get their plans on track. As hope returns for international students, here are the popular global destinations and their stance on vaccine rollouts.


Although the country is struggling with the new strain of the virus, it was also the first to authorise the Pfizer- BioNtech vaccine. Vaccination of key groups was started last in the last year itself, and more than a million people were vaccinated when the New Year dawned. Despite the new strain, the UK targets vaccination of the entire country by summer this year. That being said, the universities here are gearing up for a full intake in September 2021. Meanwhile, students will be studying remotely through the current lockdown, and only the ones with practical programmes are allowed on campus.


Germany is one of the early adopters of the vaccine as compared to its European counterparts. It is looking forward to a target of covering as many as 10 million people in Q1 of 2021. Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering the manufacture of the Russian vaccine locally just to speed up vaccinations. Although the country remains in lockdown through January, travel is allowed for international travellers with the “two-test strategy”, except for those from the UK and South Africa where the new strain is rampant.


Switzerland, another popular study abroad destination in Europe, started rollouts in the last week of December 2020. A nationwide campaign to vaccinate high-risk groups started in January.  While the drugs regulator in the country has authorised the use of Pfizer and partner BioNTech vaccines, the expected approval of other brands is under regulatory review, and those looking for free jabs could get them by mid-2021. Things look bright for students who want to enrol in Swiss universities as they will probably be allowed back by autumn this year.


France is one of the slower countries in the vaccine rollout race, mainly because of individual hesitancy. But officials have vowed to catch up and give an extra push to their vaccination drives to come at par with the European neighbours. France is currently taking the delivery of 500,000 doses by Pfizer per week, but it may add 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine soon, once approved by the EU. With greater availability and more awareness, things are bound to look up for the country and the international students planning to study here.


Surprisingly, Israel is emerging as the topper on the rollout list, covering about 14% of its population in less than three weeks. With a relatively small, concentrated population and highly-efficient healthcare system, things have been a tad easier for the country. Moreover, it has shelled out a premium price for obtaining a larger supply of the vaccine by Pfizer-BioNtech. The country is an attractive destination for international students, so many are willing to choose it for realising their study abroad dreams. The vaccination status here is another reason that adds to its appeal.


Despite being one of the most popular study-abroad countries, Australia is lagging on the vaccine rollout front. It starts from mid-to-late February with an estimated 80,000 vaccinations a week and aims to cover four million individuals by the end of March. Health experts state that international travel may not resume normalcy by mid-year even after the rollout. So students need to align their plans accordingly.


New Zealand is one of the countries that have done an exemplary job at managing to contain the virus within its borders. The government has enough supplies to inoculate its entire population, with agreements with pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and Novavax already in place. The aim is to offer a free vaccine for the whole country by the mid of 2021. Still, the country is taking a cautious approach and going slow with the rollouts because it is in an ideal position without a known community spread of the virus. The situation here for study abroad is wait-and-watch.


The first vaccine was authorised in Canada in early December 2020, and the government is working to ensure that everyone in the country has access to free vaccines as quickly as possible. The rollout is already in full swing, and the target to complete immunisation is set for September 2021. Since a significant part of the country’s revenue comes from international students, it is expected to go the extra mile for resuming normalcy at the earliest.


The prospects aren’t as bright for students pursuing the American dream because the country is battling staggering numbers of COVID-19 cases. Despite vaccinations going at a rapid pace, the country is far behind the 20 million targets. There are several challenges that stand in the way, the country has a huge population to cover, and travel restrictions are still in place. Additionally, there are uncertainties on the regulations front with the upcoming change in the federal government. For international students who want to be there, they should decide only after having a good look at the situation.

With countries pacing up their vaccine rollouts, 2021 appears to be the year of hope for students planning to take their study abroad plans forward. Before you take the step, just dive deeper and learn more about what to expect.

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