New Delhi: Even as India-made Covishield is not on European Medicine Agency’s (EMA) list that is used for EU green pass, it has emerged that it has become the collateral damage in the inter-EU tussle in the bloc over the bid to allow Chinese and Russian vaccines for travelers.
The EU member countries were divided over allowing Chinese COVID vaccine Sinopharm and Sinovac and Russian vaccines Sputnik V as the bloc opens up for travel.
The member countries came up with a compromise formula, under which EMA’s vaccines list was agreed to be used for the green pass that comes into effect from July 1. European Medicines Agency has listed four vaccines, which are Comirnaty (Pfizer), COVID-19 vaccine Janssen, Spikevax (previously COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna), and AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria.
European Medicine Agency is in charge of the scientific evaluation of medicines, vaccines in view of their marketing authorization in the EU.
The AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India – Covishield got a license for commercial use in South Asia, Africa, and not in Europe. That is one of the reasons that SII never applied for the list.
The EU green pass or the Digital COVID Certificate is meant to facilitate safe free movement during the COVID pandemic within the EU. The certificate serves as proof that a person is vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19. It is not a pre-condition to travel.
EU officials have pointed out, “For the purpose of the Digital COVID Certificate, individual Member States will have the option to accept also vaccinations that have been authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO), such as Covishield.”
Each member country is also allowed to use any vaccine it is okay with. Switzerland has made it clear that any persons who have been vaccinated or who have recovered do not have to produce a negative test even when travelling from countries where the Delta variant is widespread such as India or the United Kingdom. Ireland has listed COVISHIELD as one of the vaccines for travellers coming to the country. France is “actively working” on allowing COVISHIELD after India raised the matter.
Interestingly, the EU could have used the World Health Organisation or WHO list of approved vaccines, which included COVISHIELD but that means giving a green light to both Chinese vaccines which the EU has a difference on. Covishield, Sinovac, Sinopharm are among the 8 vaccines given WHO approval.
In a statement to Zee Media on Monday, European Medicines Agency said Covishield does not currently have a marketing authorization in the bloc, pointing out, “Should we receive a marketing authorization application for Covishield …we would communicate about it.”