France allowed international travelers who have received the Covishield, AstraZeneca’s Indian-manufactured vaccine, into the country starting Sunday. The move to accept visitors vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s vaccine made by India’s Serum Institute came after a global outcry over the fact that the European Unions COVID-19 certificate only recognizes AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Europe.
A number of countries approve the Covishield vaccine for international travel to their country, which includes 16 European nations. Recently, the EU launched the “Green Pass” programme, which would allow travellers who have been vaccinated with an approved set of vaccines to travel inside the EU’s 27-country zone.
“It is indeed good news for travelers, as we see 16 European countries recognising Covishield as an acceptable vaccine for entry. However, despite being vaccinated, entry guidelines might vary from country to country,” said Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India, after France’s announcement.
Here are the countries which have given recognition to Covishield for international travel:
• The Netherlands
• Antigua and Barbuda
• Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
• Cabo Verde
• Côte d’Ivoire
• Saint Kitts and Nevis
• Saint Lucia
• Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
• Solomon Islands
• South Africa
• Sri Lanka
• The Bahamas
• Trinidad and Tobago
India had kicked off its vaccination drive on January 16 this year, with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine ‘Covishield’, locally manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, made by Bharat Biotech. India has also been pushing for international recognition and approval of Covaxin. With the World Health Organization (WHO) beginning a review process for Covaxin, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech had said on Monday that it intends to acquire an emergency use listing (EUL) from the global body as soon as possible.
The ‘Green Pass’ Row
After the EU introduced the green pass, a travel pass between European nations for persons vaccinated with one of four vaccines: Comirnaty by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Vaxzervria by AstraZeneca-Oxford, and Janssen by Johnson & Johnson, there were concerns in India.
Despite the fact that Covishield is the Indian equivalent of AstraZeneca vaccine, it was not included in the EU green pass list. Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, which manufactures Covishield, has stated that the issue has been raised at the highest levels and that he hopes to resolve it quickly.
The EU green card will allow smooth travel across the EU’s 27 member countries. Countries should not impose additional travel restrictions, such as mandatory quarantine, on persons who travel with a green pass, which is effectively a certificate of immunisation.
India has urged EU member states to recognise Covishield and Covaxin on an individual basis and treat vaccinated Indians equally to those vaccinated in EU countries.