On Monday, the Serum Institute of India’s Adar Poonawalla had tweeted: “I realise 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.”
Top EU medical body – the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – has so far cleared only four vaccines — Comirnaty of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Vaxzervria by AstraZeneca-Oxford and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen. Only those who’ve been given these shots are granted vaccination passports, and allowed to travel within the EU during the pandemic.
Travellers from outside the EU are required to hold one of these ‘certificates’ – to be accepted by all member-nations – that will allow restriction-free movement within the bloc. Covishield, manufactured in India by the Serum Institute – in partnership with the Oxford University and AstraZeneca – is not on the list. Another vaccine cleared by India – Covaxin – is also not a part of the list.
The EU does, however, also say “member states may decide to extend this (the certificate) also to EU travellers that received another vaccine”.
Under existing rules Indians (and other nationals) who have been vaccinated with Covishield or Covaxin are not be eligible for restriction-free travel within the EU; this means they will be subject to quarantine and other relevant protocols as enforced by each country.
On Wednesday, sources in the foreign ministry said India will begin a reciprocal policy when it comes to exemption from quarantine. This would mean that unless the European Union accepts Covishield and Covaxin certificates, their certificates will not be accepted in the country and people from EU will face mandatory quarantine upon arrival in India.
With inputs from NDTV