Poonawalla hopes to resolve Covishield, EU travel issues soon

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Europe’s vaccine passport programme, which allowed recipients to travel to and from Europe with fewer roadblocks, may not recognise recipients of the Covishield vaccine…reports Asian Lite News.

Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and owner of the Serum Institute of India (SII) on Monday assured Indians who have taken Covishield doses and are now facing issues while travelling to European Union countries that the matter had been escalated to the ‘highest level’.

In a tweet, Poonawala also said he hoped to resolve the matter soon, both with regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries.

“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,” he tweeted.

This comes after reports that travellers vaccinated with Covishield, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine manufactured in India by the SII, may not be eligible for the European Union’s ‘Green Pass’.

Europe’s vaccine passport programme, which allowed recipients to travel to and from Europe with fewer roadblocks, may not recognise recipients of the Covishield vaccine.

Covishield is one of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in India.

The exclusion means, travellers vaccinated with Covishield may not be eligible for the vaccine passport that will enable Europeans to move freely for work or tourism.

While the European Union had earlier said that member states should issue the certificates regardless of the type of Covid-19 vaccine, the technical specifications of the ‘Green Pass’ indicate that obligation would be limited to “vaccines that have received EU-wide marketing authorization,” the Hindustan Times reported.

According to the report, at present, four vaccines have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that can be used in the EU member states: Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech), Moderna, Vaxzervria (AstraZeneca), Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).

Covishield has not been approved by the EMA for the European market. The EU green pass will only recognise the Vaxzervria version of the AstraZeneca vaccine that is manufactured in the UK or other sites around Europe, it was reported.

Meanwhile, SII has begun manufacturing Novavax’s protein-based vaccine Covovax, CEO Adar Poonawalla has said.

The company will also begin clinical trials of Novavax for children starting July.

In the recently released Phase -3 trials, Covovax has shown overall 90 per cent efficacy against Covid-19. The US-based trials also demonstrated the two-shot vaccine 100 per cent protection against moderate and severe disease.


“The vaccine has great potential to protect our future generations below the age of 18. Trials are ongoing. Well done team,” he said.

SII’s Phase-2 and 3 clinical trials of Covovax will reportedly be conducted in 920 children — 460 each in 12-17 years and 2-11 years groups, media reports said.

In August 2020, Novavax and SII had announced an agreement under which the US biotechnology company had given SII the licence to manufacture and supply the vaccine in low- and middle-income countries.

In March 2021, CEO Poonawalla said Covovax will be launched by September this year. (ANI)

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