India takes up Covishield's exclusion from the EU's 'Green Pass'
Covishield, the Indian version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, has been excluded from the European Union's "Green Pass." The Green Pass would be available from July 1 and can be used for unrestricted travel within all the EU member countries for business and tourism purposes. That pass would be granted to those vaccinated with only the jabs listed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
'Hope to resolve soon,' says Adar Poonawalla
India has raised this issue with the EMA in Brussels as well as the French government, reports say. Adar Poonawalla, whose Serum Institute of India manufactures Covishield in India, today tweeted that he hoped the matter would be resolved soon. "I have taken this up at the highest levels and hope to resolve this matter soon, both with regulators and at a diplomatic level."
Here is the tweet by Poonawalla
I realise that a lot of Indians who have taken COVISHIELD are facing issues with travel to the E.U., 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.— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) June 28, 2021
Which vaccines have been listed by the EMA?
The EU's Green Pass lists four vaccines - Vaxzevria (developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca), Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech), Spikevax (Moderna), and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). Both Covishield and Vaxzevria are notably the same jab developed by the Oxford University and UK-based AstraZeneca. While Covishield is manufactured in India by the Serum Institute, Vaxzevria is manufactured in the United Kingdom and other locations across Europe.
What do the rules mean for Indians?
The rules imply that Indians or other nationals who have been vaccinated with Covishield will not be eligible for restriction-free travel within European countries. They will hence be subject to strict rules concerning quarantine and testing as enforced by each country they travel to. However, EU member states are free to amend the rules to allow entry to travelers vaccinated with other jabs.
COVAXIN also not included in the list
COVAXIN, which has been developed and manufactured entirely in India, by the Hyderabad-based firm Bharat Biotech, is also not part of the EU list. Most vaccinated Indians have received either Covishield or COVAXIN. India also has a third approved vaccine - Russia's Sputnik V. However, that jab has not yet been rolled out on a wider scale.
How is the vaccination drive going in India?
India has so far given out 32.36 crore coronavirus vaccine doses, slightly more than the United States has. Even though 19% of the Indian population has received at least one dose, just about 4% of Indians have been fully vaccinated as yet. The government plans to inoculate all Indian adults by the end of this year.