Green Pass: Jaishankar discusses Covishield with top EU official
External affairs minister S Jaishankar tweeted on Tuesday that he has taken up the issue of inclusion of the Covishield anti-Covid vaccine in the European Union's (EU) Covid-19 vaccination passport with a top official of the bloc.
"A comprehensive review of our relationship with Josep Borrell Fontelles. Took up Covishield authorisation for travel to Europe. Will be following up," Jaishankar, who is in Italy for a G20 foreign minister's meet, tweeted, informing of his meeting with Fontelles', the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
Covishield, which is the name given to the Oxford University-AstraZeneca shot in India by their local manufacturers Serum Institute of India (SII), has not been recognised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as, according to the agency, it is yet to receive a request by the Pune-based SII in this regard. The need to receive a clearance from EMA is needed by Covishield vaccinated passengers to travel to Europe.
Thus far, EMA has granted approval to only four vaccines for its "Green Paas," a document which, beginning July 1, will enable travellers inoculated with any of the four vaccines to travel freely within the bloc for work or tourism purposes. Shots developed by Pfizer/BioNTech SE, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, along with Vaxzervria -- another Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine -- have been approved by EMA till now. According to officials, EMA does not review new drugs on its own, unless requested by the relevant drug makers to do so.
On Monday, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla assured the issue he has taken up at the highest levels adding that he is hopeful for an early resolution. "I realise that a lot of Indians who have used 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 regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries."
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Covishield is one of two vaccines which majority of Indians have been inoculated with, with Covaxin, developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech being the other shot. Since then, two more vaccines -- Russia's Sputnik V and and one from US pharmaceutical Moderna -- have received approval for use. Two more shots are likely to be cleared soon.