Adar Poonawalla

SII chief promises help to Indians facing EU travel issues over Covishield

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Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has assured Indians, who have taken the Covishield jab, but are facing travel issues in the European Union, that he has taken it up at the highest levels to resolve the matter.

Covishield is the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India by the Pune-based vaccine maker.

“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 regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries,” Poonawalla tweeted.

Also read: Travelling abroad? You may need a COVID vaccine passport

There are reports that travelers vaccinated with the Indian vaccine, Covishield may not be eligible for the European Union ‘Green Pass’, which is being launched to enable easy travel into and between EU countries.

The digital ‘vaccine passport’ recognizes the Vaxzevria version of the AstraZeneca vaccine that is produced in the UK and Europe, and approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). However, Covishield is not yet recognized by the EMA.

The EMA, responsible for the evaluation and supervision of medicinal products, has cleared only four COVID vaccines so far — Comirnaty (BioNTech-Pfizer), Moderna, Vaxzevria (Oxford-AstraZeneca), and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).

Also read: Long-distance air travel may take off again only in 2023

Iceland, which was the first country in Europe to reopen borders for the vaccinated, clarified that only those who have received a vaccine authorized by EMA or the WHO would benefit from border reopening. It also reported that France, the Schengen Area, and other countries, will also facilitate easy entry for those vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine, and not those being administered in Russia and India.

Even though Covishield has the WHO approval, the ‘Green Pass’ program only accommodates EMA-approved vaccines. Meanwhile, the Serum Institute has produced over 10 crore doses of Covishield in June as India ramps up the inoculation drive in the face of a possible third wave of the deadly infection.

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