THE European Union’s (EU) refusal to acknowledge ‘Made in India’ vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, for its ‘vaccination passport’ has sparked a diplomatic dissension with India.
India has requested EU that the vaccination certificates issued through the CoWIN portal should be accepted by it without further ado, and citizens vaccinated with either Covishield or Covaxin should be allowed to travel across Europe under the bloc’s ‘Green Passport’ system. Failure to do so, India has warned, would lead to retaliatory measures in the form of EU’s digital COVID certificate not being recognized by India.
Furthermore, the Government of India offered to reciprocate by exempting citizens of the concerned country from mandatory quarantine upon arrival in India if they are vaccinated with any COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the respective country’s health authorities.
The European Union’s digital COVID certificate system, intended to enable unrestricted movement during the COVID-19 pandemic, goes into effect today. Citizens who have procured vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be excluded from EU travel restrictions under these rules.
The Serum Institute of India (SII) initiated a diplomatic request to the EMA for authorization of Covishield, the brand name of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and is hoping for a positive resolution.
In response to Covishield’s exclusion from the EU Digital Covid Certificate guideline, an EU spokesperson said in a statement to India Today, “Covishield is not yet approved for sale in the European Union. It has, however, completed the WHO (World Health Organization) Emergency Use Listing process. Based on the relevant Council Recommendation on the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU, Member States may allow fully vaccinated travellers (without an essential reason) to enter the EU.”
On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar met EU High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles, to address the issue of the exclusion of Covishield from the EU digital COVID certificate scheme. The meeting took place on the eve of the G20 summit in Italy.
Earlier today, it was reported that eight EU countries – Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland, have included Covishield in their respective lists of approved vaccines. This means that those vaccinated with Covishield will be exempt from the travel curbs in place in these countries.
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is still not enlisted in WHO’s Emergency Use Listing due to its Phase-III trials data not yet being publicly available.