Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he saw no reason why people who received India-made vaccine – Covishield – should be left out of vaccine passport schemes, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is “very confident” there “will not prove to be a problem” for travellers who have received an Indian-produced Covid-19 vaccine.
It comes after reports the European Union’s passport scheme does not recognise the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India, known as Covishield.
Johnson on Friday said he saw no reason why people who received India-made vaccine should be left out of vaccine passport schemes.
“I see no reason at all why the MHRA-approved vaccines should not be recognised as part of the vaccine passports and I’m very confident that that will not prove to be a problem,” Johnson said at a joint news conference with Angela Merkel, referring to Britain’s medicines regulator.
About 5 million people in Britain are thought to have had the vaccine made by Serum Institute in India, according to reports.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands became the latest EU country to approve the SII-manufactured Covishield vaccine for travellers, days after India pushed for the approval of its COVID-19 vaccines in Europe.
According to the website of the government of the Netherlands, Covishield has been included in the list of approved vaccines along with the doses from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
People who have been fully vaccinated can be exempted from the EU entry ban unless they are travelling from a country that has been designated as a very high-risk area due to the presence of a variant of concern.
Earlier, Switzerland, Iceland and seven EU countries on Thursday allowed the SII-manufactured Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine, a day after external affairs minister S Jaishankar said he had taken up with the European bloc to accept COVID-19 vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin.
According to sources, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Estonia and Spain have confirmed accepting Covishield for travel entry. Switzerland has also allowed Covishield for the Schengen state.
Estonia has confirmed that it will recognize all the vaccines authorized by the Government of India for the travel of Indians to Estonia, said sources.
India had requested EU member states to individually consider extending exemption to those persons who have taken Covishield and Covaxin and said it will institute a reciprocal policy for recognition of the EU Digital COVID Certificate, according to sources.
“We have requested EU member states to individually consider extending similar exemption to those persons who have taken COVID-19 vaccines in India i.e. Covishield and Covaxin, and accept the vaccination certificate issued through the CoWIN portal. The genuineness of such vaccination certification can be authenticated on the CoWIN portal,” a source said.
The 27-member European bloc has introduced the EU Digital COVID Certificate framework to facilitate safe free movement during the COVID pandemic and it came into effect on July 1.
Under this framework, persons vaccinated with vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be exempted from travel restrictions within the EU, sources said adding that individual member states have the flexibility to also accept vaccines that have been authorized at the national level or by the World Health Organization.
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at the weekly media briefing that India expects that CoWIN vaccination certificate would be recognized by the EU on a reciprocal basis.
“We understand European Union instituted EU digital COVID certificate for exempting restrictions on the movement of vaccinated people. Our expectation is that Indians vaccinated through our domestic vaccination programme would be treated at par with those vaccinated in the EU and CoWIN vaccination certificate would be recognized by EU on a reciprocal basis,” he said.
“As you are aware such CoWIN vaccine certificates can be authenticated on the CoWIN website itself. We are in touch with EU member states in this regard for reciprocal acceptance. I understand the number of EU countries have already taken positive steps in this direction,” he added.
A large number of countries in the Caribbean and Africa are also using made in India vaccines.
India has ruled out the export of vaccines at the moment, MEA said. The country is right now purposing its domestic vaccination programme that is moving very rapidly.
Many European nations are awaiting approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for Covishield. (with inputs from ANI)