Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer of Serum Institute of India took to Twitter on Monday, June 28 to reassure COVISHIELD-vaccinated Indians facing issues following European Union's (EU) new 'Vaccine Passport' scheme. The European Union failed to recognise the AstraZeneca Vaccine, produced by Serum Institute of India, marketed as COVISHIELD, in its 'Green Pass' list for post-vaccination travel to and from the bloc.
The EU’s digital ‘Vaccine Passport Programme', known formally as the Green Pass, which bloc countries can start issuing and using, will become available in all member states from July. It is for unrestricted movement to those travelling for business and tourism purposes. The pass is to be granted to those inoculated with any of the vaccines that have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Adar Poonawalla announced that the matter would be resolved soon, assuring anxious Indians who had taken COVISHIELD, facing issues in travelling to the EU. "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," Adar Poonawalla tweeted.
European Medicines Agency (EMA) at present has approved only four vaccines- Comirnaty(BioNTech-Pfizer), Moderna, Vaxzevria (Oxford-AstraZeneca) and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). These can be used by the EU member states to issue the "Green Pass".
Although, it must be mentioned that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved COVISHIELD for global use. However, the EMA, which is responsible for the evaluation and management of medicinal products in EU countries, is yet to authorise it. It is assumed that the Serum Institute of India will have to apply to the EMA to get either its approval or disapproval.
Iceland is the only country that has decided to welcome anyone immunized with vaccines, recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO). It was also the first country to lift restrictions and open its borders to travellers. France, however, has followed in the EU footsteps, announcing those administered with only European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved vaccines would be allowed to enter the country. Those inoculated with Russian-made and Indian-made vaccines are not authorized to enter.
According to the news agency Press Trust of India, the Serum Institute of India has produced over 100 million doses of COVISHIELD in June as of yet. The agency also mentioned the information provided by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) that it has sent 45 batches of COVISHIELD, amounting to 108 million doses to the Central Drugs Laboratory in Kasauli for release in June so far.