With developments in the COVID-19 vaccine, international students in the UK will have access to the Pfizer or BioNTech vaccine, sources claim. Michelle Donelan, the UK Universities Minister, has confirmed that no charges will be applied to testing or the treatment of COVID-19.
The Department of Health and Social Care, on 2nd December 2020, announced that the priority groups in the UK will receive access to the vaccines within a week after the experts at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency give their approval.
As per the directions, the vaccines will be offered to the priority groups, which include the Care Home Residents & Staff, People over the age of 80, Health and Care workers. The remaining population will be offered the vaccine in the order of age and risk, especially those who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.
Sources state that 40 million doses of the vaccine overall have been ordered, which is enough to vaccinate one-third of the entire population. The majority of the doses is expected to reach in the first half of next year. It has also been highlighted that the government has been able to receive early access to over 357 million doses of the vaccines through different vaccine developers.
The Department has also confirmed that the international students in the Universities in UK will receive access to the vaccines as well. However, the older international students or those diagnosed with medical conditions will come under the Priority Group.
The Secretary of Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock stated that the vaccine along with effective treatment processes will help in managing COVID-19, thus further helping reach normalcy in the future, “hopefully”.
With the UK dedicated to supporting the international students during such an unprecedented time, the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, offered her gratitude to students for being patient with the provisions offered to combat COVID-19 through an open letter.
The letter had been directed to all students who are either enrolled in one of UK’s Universities or are planning to study in the country, offering them support and guidance. The letter added that issues relating to teaching and learning, the winter break and travelling challenges, courses to resume or start in January 2021, along with many other issues such as Physical and Mental Health, COVID-19 immigration relaxations as well as post-study work rights.
Through the letter, Donelan also highlighted that the Office of Students will also be looking into the potential effects of COVID-19 on teaching and learning, while, also monitoring the providers who have turned to provide its courses in online mode, predominantly.
Further, the letter highlighted that the movements of international students during holidays and the new term. Donelan added that a few students may be asked to stay back at their respective campuses. In case, students are asked to stay back, the government expects the higher education institutions to take care of their students, she added.
Michelle Donelan also added that the Government’s advise to the international students to travel to the universities in a staggered manner over a period of five weeks. Through this method, students enrolled in practical courses will arrive first at the universities, with the rest of the students travelling afterwards.
Donelan added that students enrolled in all other courses should be offered online classes from the beginning of the term, while, being asked to travel to the university from January 25, staggered over a period of two weeks.