Covishield excluded from new EU Covid 'Green Pass' eligibility list even after WHO approval
Travellers vaccinated with Covishield may not be eligible for the European Union’s ‘Green Pass’ that will be available for use from July 1. Many EU member states have started issuing the digital “vaccine passport” that will enable Europeans to move freely for work or tourism. The immunity passport will serve as proof that a person has been vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), or recently tested negative for the virus, or has the natural immunity built up from earlier infection.
While the European Union had earlier said that member states should issue the certificates regardless of the type of Covid-19 vaccine, the technical specifications of the ‘Green Pass’ indicate that obligation would be limited to “vaccines that have received EU-wide marketing authorization.”
At present, four vaccines have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that can be used in the EU member states: Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech), Moderna, Vaxzervria (AstraZeneca), Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
Covishield, a version of AstraZeneca Covid vaccine manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), has not been approved by the EMA for the European market. The EU green pass will only recognise the Vaxzervria version of the AstraZeneca vaccine that is manufactured in the UK or other sites around Europe.
The recipients of Covishield largely include Indians and citizens of low- and middle-income countries who were immunised with vaccines distributed by the WHO co-sponsored COVAX initiative.
However, member states have the option to accept other vaccination certificates in case the travellers have received Covid-19 vaccines not approved by the EMA.
According to the website schengenvisainfo.com, Iceland will allow restriction-free entry to those who have been vaccinated with one of the vaccines authorised by the EMA or the WHO. Apart from the EMA-approved vaccines, the UN health agency has included Covishield, CoronaVac, and Sinopharm under its Emergency Use List.
On the other hand, France has clarified that it will facilitate easy entry for those vaccinated with one of the EMA-approved vaccines, and not others, like the Russian and Indian vaccines.
EU leaders expect to have vaccinated around 70% of the adult population in the region when the digital certificate will be available for use. The vaccination certificate is not a substitute for a travel document and holders must also provide a passport or identity card.