Indians in a fix, Jaishankar raises green pass for Covishield with EU | India News

NEW DELHI: Foreign minister S Jaishankar said he has raised the issue of European authorisation for Covishield vaccine for travel to the EU with Josep Borell Fontelles, high representative for the EU on foreign policy.
Tweeting after his meeting with Borell on the sidelines of the G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Matera, Jaishankar said, “Discussed vaccine production and access. Took up ‘Covishield’ authorisation for travel to Europe. Will be following up.”
The European Union’s ‘vaccine passport’ programme, formally called the ‘Green Pass’, has approved only four vaccines, Vaxzevria (Oxford-AstraZeneca), Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech), Spikevax (Moderna) and Janssen-Johnson & Johnson.
In an attempt to clear the air on the European Union’s “green Pass” Covid certificate, the EU said individual countries have the power to approve WHO-cleared vaccines for travel by foreigners to their countries. “For the purpose of the Digital Covid Certificate, individual Member States will have the option to accept also vaccinations that have been authorised by the World Health Organization (WHO), such as Covishield.”
Earlier today, Serum Institute sources said they had applied for approval to the European Medicine Agency (EMA) for the Covishield vaccine through Astra Zeneca. This is exactly the same as the Vaxzevria jab manufactured in the EU, so there was a backlash the EMA cleared the latter but not the former.
Trying to deal with the criticism, the EMA said on Tuesday they had not received any application for approval of Covishield vaccine by SII. “Concerning a possible EMA authorisation for Covishield, as of yesterday, 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.”
Some officials said all the companies producing the Astra Zeneca vaccine would have to apply separately for approval. The EU has had a testy relationship with Astra Zeneca from the start of the vaccine process.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII also took to Twitter, saying “I realize that a lot of Indians who have taken Covishield are facing issues with travel to the EU. I assure everyone I have taken this up at the highest levels and hope to resolve this matter soon, both with the regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries.” He had written to Jaishankar as well.
The refusal to approve Covishield would impact not only Indians but many countries who have taken the Covishield vaccine as part of COVAX. These would be countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Regarding the EU Digital Covid Certificate, or the “green Pass”, the EU statement said it was meant to “facilitate safe free movement during the Covid-19 pandemic within the EU. 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.”
EU also clarified that “temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU are currently in place from many non-EU countries, including India, due to Covid.” It added that EU member states would gradually lift these temporary travel restrictions at the external borders,” based on developments of the health situation.”

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