The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is yet to clear the inclusion of Covishield in the European Union (EU) Covid vaccination passport. Until it is approved, anyone who has been fully vaccinated with Covishield won’t be able to travel to Europe during the pandemic.
Speaking to PTI, Poonawalla said there is no reason why EMA won’t approve Covishield since the vaccine is originally developed by AstraZeneca and is more or less identical to the one being manufactured in the UK.
“We are quite confident that in a month EMA will approve Covishield. There is no reason not to, because it is based on AstraZeneca data and our product is identical to AstraZeneca more or less and it has been approved by WHO, UK MHRA. So it’s just a matter of time. It is not really going to hinder anything,” he added.
He said that SII has applied for the inclusion of Covishield through its partner AstraZeneca.
“The EMA is absolutely correct in asking us to apply, which we have through AstraZeneca, our partners, a month ago, and that process has to take its time. An approval process even with UK MHRA, WHO took its time and we have applied to the EMA,” Poonawalla said at India Global Forum 2021.
On Tuesday, a European Union (EU) official had told news agency ANI that EMA has not received any request for approval of Covishield.
The Pune-based company had earlier urged the government to take up the matter with the European Union and other countries. It said that non-inclusion of Covishield will affect students and business travellers.
Currently, only four vaccines — Comirnaty of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Vaxzervria by AstraZeneca-Oxford and, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen — have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
EU Green Pass
A European Union vaccine passport programme will allow people to travel freely within the bloc from July 1, as long as they have had one of these vaccines.
On Monday, the external affairs ministry had also raised the issue of Covishield’s lack of recognition by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Foreign minister S Jaishankar, who is in Italy for the G20 summit, said he took up the issue with a top European Union official and promised to follow up the matter.
Last year, AstraZeneca partnered with SII to supply the vaccine to the Indian government, as well as to a large number of low and middle-income countries.
Covishield accounts for about 88% of the 322 million doses so far administered in India, the country’s CoWIN vaccination registration platform shows.
Many vaccinated with India’s Covaxin shot also face travel difficulties, as it has yet to be approved by the WHO.
(With inputs from agencies)