Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla took to Twitter on Monday to reassure Covishield-vaccinated Indians who are having difficulty traveling to the European Union due to the EU’s new ‘vaccine passport’ scheme, which does not recognize the India-made version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine.
Mr. Poonawalla stated that he had ‘taken this up at the highest levels… with regulators and diplomatic’ and hoped that the issue would be resolved soon. ‘I realize that a lot of Indians who have taken COVISHIELD are facing issues with travel to the E.U., 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,’ he said.
The European Medicines Agency, the EU’s medical regulatory body, has approved four vaccines, including the AstraZeneca shot known as Vaxzervria in Europe. It has not, however, approved the Serum Institute’s version, which is sold in India as Covishield.
Beginning July 1, the European Union intends to implement a ‘digital Covid certificate’ to ‘enable safe (and) free movement of citizens in the EU during the pandemic.’ The ‘certificate’ is intended to serve as proof that the holder has been vaccinated, has a negative test result, or has recovered from an infection.
Travelers from outside the EU will be required to have one of these ‘certificates,’ which will be accepted by all member countries and will allow them to move freely within the bloc. As a result, under current rules, Indians who have received the Covishield vaccine will not be eligible for visa-free travel within the European Union and will be subject to quarantines and other medical protocols imposed by each country.