France will allow all travellers, including Indians, who have received Covishield, AstraZeneca’s Indian-manufactured vaccine, into the country starting Sunday.
At the same time, France is tightening border checks to control the spread of the delta variant, according to a statement from the prime minister on Saturday.
The move comes even as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) waits for application from the Serum Institute of India for authorisation of Covishield. For Covishield to be evaluated for use in the EU, SII needs to submit a formal marketing authorisation application to EMA.
The EMA had earlier said minor differences in manufacturing processes could result in differences in the final product, and EU law required specific assessments as part of the authorisation process.
So far, the EMA has approved only four vaccines: Comirnaty of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna’s Spikevax, Vaxzervria by AstraZeneca-Oxford, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen. Covishield is manufactured by SII under technology transfer from Oxford/AstraZeneca.
However, several European countries, including France now, have independently accepted Covishield.
The EU introduced the Digital COVID Certificate a little more than a fortnight ago to makes intra-EU travel possible.
The following countries recognise Covishield for international travel: Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Greece, Ireland, Estonia, Spain, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominica, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Hungary, Jamaica, Lebanon, Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, The Bahamas, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and owner of Serum Institute of India Adar Poonawalla welcomed France’s move, cautioning travellers to follow travel advisories that differ from country to country.
“It is indeed good news for travellers, as we see sixteen European countries recognising Covishield as an acceptable vaccine for entry. However, despite being vaccinated, entry guidelines might vary from country to country, so do read up before you travel,” tweeted Poonawalla.