The European Union Digital Covid Certificate enables people who have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine approved by its medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), to travel freely within the bloc.
But the pass only recognizes AstraZeneca doses (branded Vaxzevria) made by EMA-approved manufacturers in Europe, US, South Korea and China — not those manufactured by the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India (branded Covishield).
Entry to Europe not guaranteed
The fact that two doses of the Indian-produced AstraZeneca vaccine does not guarantee travelers entry to the EU means a huge part of the world is excluded from the bloc’s current travel policy.
Covishield has been described as the “backbone” of COVAX contributions to low- and middle-income countries.
The AU and Africa CDC urged the EU Commission, in a joint statement on Monday, “to consider increasing mandatory access to those vaccines deemed suitable for global rollout through the EU-supported COVAX Facility.”
“The current applicability guidelines put at risk the equitable treatment of persons having received their vaccines in countries profiting from the EU-supported COVAX Facility, including the majority of the African Union (AU) Member States,” the joint statement said.
These developments are concerning given that the Covishield vaccine has been the backbone of the EU-supported COVAX contributions to the AU Member States’ vaccination programmes. Furthermore, given that the expressed goal for the Serum Institute of India production is to serve India and lower-income countries, the SII may not apply for EU-wide market authorisation, meaning that the inequalities in access to “Green Passes” created by this approach would persist indefinitely,” the statement continued.
Serum Institute head Adar Poonawalla said in a tweet
Monday that people who have been administered the Covishield shot are “facing issues with travel to the EU.”