While India continues to reel under Covid the second wave, there are conjectures that travelers vaccinated with the Indian vaccine, Covishield, manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute, may not be eligible for the European Union ‘Green Pass’, which is being launched to enable easy travel into and between EU countries.
As per a report by The Economic Times, the digital ‘vaccine passport’ recognizes the Vaxzevria version of the AstraZeneca vaccine that is produced in the UK and Europe, and approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). While Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, is not yet recognized by the EMA.
Subsequently, EMA, which is the agency of the European Union responsible for the evaluation and supervision of medicinal products, has approved only four Covid-19 vaccines so far, namely, Comirnaty (BioNTech-Pfizer), Moderna, Vaxzevria (Oxford-AstraZeneca), and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
Notably, Iceland, which was the first country in Europe to reopen borders for the vaccinated, clarified that only those who have received a vaccine authorized by EMA or the WHO would benefit from border reopening. It also reported that France, the Schengen Area, and other countries, will also facilitate easy entry for those vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine, and not those being administered in Russia and India.
Even though Covishield has the WHO’s approval, the ‘Green Pass’ program only accommodates EMA-approved vaccines.
WHO has given an emergency nod to eight COVID-19 vaccines so far, including AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria and the corresponding ‘versions’ of Serum Institute and S.K. Biosciences. India’s other major COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, has been approved neither by the WHO nor the EMA.