NEW DELHI: Nine of the European Union’s 27 member states have so far recognised India’s Covishield vaccine for allowing entry of travellers into their respective countries. In other words, those who already have double shots of Covishield can fly in and out of those nine countries for business or pleasure without hassle but not into the rest of the EU member states.
The nations that green-lighted Serum Institute of India’s Covishield are Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Iceland, Estonia and Switzerland. The approvals came after intense diplomacy with India playing the reciprocal policy card on exemption from quarantine. It meant that travellers from EU member states that do not recognise Covishield as well as Covaxin produced by Bharat Biotech will face mandatory quarantine upon arrival in India.
While the nine countries have accepted Covishield, they are uneasy about Covaxin because it is yet to get the World Health Organization’s approval. New Delhi is learnt to be okay with it and may not press the Covaxin matter till the WHO takes its call. The first hint of a WHO timeline on Covaxin came on Thursday when it said clarity on its emergency use approval should be available by mid-August.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU’s top regulatory body, has approved only four vaccines Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) , Spikevax (Moderna), Vaxzervria (AstraZeneca) and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). Vaxzervria and Covishield are different only in their brand names and their manufacturing address. The EMA, however, allowed member states to amend the rules to let people enter after taking any other WHO-approved vaccine.
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