Ambassador of the European Union to India and Bhutan Ugo Astuto on Monday said the EU Digital COVID Certificate is meant to facilitate safe free movement during the pandemic within the EU, but was not a pre-condition to travel.
“It will serve as proof that a person was vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19. The aim of the EU Digital COVID Certificate is to facilitate free movement inside the EU. It is not a pre-condition to travel," he told CNN-News18.
Astuto said that for the purpose of the Digital COVID Certificate, individual Member States will have the option to accept vaccinations that have been authorised by the World Health Organization (WHO), such as Covishield.
“Many countries are using the WHO list. Member states have control over who moves across their borders. The digital certificate is over and above to facilitate safe movement," he said.
Concerning a possible EMA authorisation for Covishield, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) stated that it had not received a request for approval. It will examine any such request when received, as per its procedures. The EMA does not investigate new drugs on its own, unless it is asked by the relevant companies.
As to travel to the EU from India, temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU are currently in place from many non-EU countries, including India, due to Covid, sources told CNN-News18.
People vaccinated with Covishield, manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), are unlikely to be eligible to travel to the European Union member states under the ‘Green Pass’ scheme as the vaccine is yet to be cleared by the EMA.
The EU Digital COVID certificate or ‘Green Pass’ will be mandatory to travel to European countries and the document is likely to serve as proof that a person is vaccinated against COVID-19. Travel under ‘Green Pass’ to non-EU citizens may be rolled out in a phased manner from July 1.
However, individual European Union member countries may have separate rules and norms for travellers.
The EMA has already approved four COVID-19 vaccines which included Vaxzevria, the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in the UK and EU-member countries. The SII makes Covishield in India with a licence from AstraZeneca.
“The only COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca for which a marketing authorisation application was submitted to and evaluated by EMA, leading to its authorisation in the EU, is Vaxzevria," Alessandro Faia, a spokesperson of the EMA said.
With inputs from agencies