Ashwini Kumar has his sights set on travelling back home to Australia after being stranded in India for the past seven months.
The 33-year-old's excitement follows the approval of two more vaccines, India's Covaxin and China's BBIBP-CorV .
“As soon as I saw the TGA approval notification I forwarded it to everyone I know … I ran to my parents and went to my wife and said 'We can travel',” Mr Kumar told SBS News.
After working in Melbourne for five years, Mr Kumar travelled to Bangalore to get married in April, with plans to then return to Australia with his new wife Khushboo.
But his plans were derailed when he found himself in the midst of India’s severe COVID-19 outbreak, which saw most of his relatives become infected with the virus.
Despite international travel resuming for Australians on Monday, Mr Kumar was left shattered when he found out the TGA did not recognise Covaxin, the vaccine he and his whole family had taken months ago.
“It has been tough especially in the last 15 days. Finally, we have the result, now all of us can actually travel, we can meet our friends, I can start my job there … I’m very happy about that,” he said.
Mr Kumar had felt confident he made the right decision in taking Covaxin until he found out the TGA and other organisations around the world did not recognise it.
“Our morale had been brought down … we began to think, ‘Had we taken something safe or not?’,” he said.
But now Mr Kumar says he is “very, very excited”, and is eyeing 12 November as the date for a homecoming to Melbourne.
It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia will reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers from Singapore by 21 November in a bid to further ease border restrictions in line with the national plan.
“Step by step, everything that we know and love about Australia is inching back to normal,” Mr Morrison said after meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Rome.
“This is another significant milestone in our step by step approach to safely reopening to the world that we outlined in the National Plan.”
Almost 780,000 international COVID-19 vaccine certificates in Australia have been processed as borders opened for international travel from 1 November.