As many as nine countries have cleared the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, including Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Estonia and Switzerland. This was reported amid an ongoing row over vaccines accepted for a “green pass” allowing free travel in the region.
So far, only four vaccines have been approved by the EU’s top medical body, the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The four approved vaccines include Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty, US pharma giant Moderna’s Covid vaccine, AstraZeneca shot manufactured and sold in Europe as Vaxzervria, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen. Vaccination passports are granted only to those who have received these shots. Also, these passport holders are allowed to travel amid the pandemic without any hassle.
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The EMA list contains neither Covaxin nor Covishield. Bharat Biotech manufactures Covaxin, and Covishield is manufactured in India by the world’s largest manufacturer Serum Institute of India, in partnership with Oxford University and AstraZeneca.
However, the EU also says that “member states may decide to extend this (the certificate) also to EU travellers that received another vaccine”.
These rules say that Indians who have been administered doses of either Covishield or Covaxin may have to remain under quarantine if they travel to the EU nations, that is, unless the respective countries have cleared these vaccines.
Sources in the foreign ministry on June 30 said that a reciprocal policy will be started in India regarding exemption from quarantine. People from the EU will also have to undergo mandatory quarantine after arriving in India unless the European Union accepts those vaccinated with Covishield and Covaxin.
Serum Institute’s CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted: “I realise that a lot of Indians who have taken Covishield are facing issues with travel to the EU, I assure everyone, I have taken this up at the highest levels and hope to resolve this matter soon, both with regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries. (sic)”
On Tuesday, June 29, the matter was also discussed between Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Josep Borrell Fontelles, a top EU official.
Poonawalla stated that it was “just a matter of time” since the World Health Organization and the UK’s health care regulator approved the vaccine.