As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, various countries have put forth the concept of a 'vaccine passport' to provide easier access to inoculated individuals. But even vaccinated Indians might face difficulties in entering certain countries. As per recent reports, the European Union's COVID vaccination passport or green pass does not include any of the vaccines that are presently being used in India.
While the rules may vary between member nations, those holding this vaccine passport will soon (from July 1) be able to travel throughout Europe without the need to quarantine or test for COVID-19. The member states can also separately issue certificates for travellers injected with vaccines beyond those approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Presently the green passport is slated to be issued to individuals who have been vaccinated fully against COVID-19 with the four vaccines approved by the EMA. These are Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNtech), Moderna, Vaxzevria (AstraZenca-Oxford) and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). The Indian edition of the AstraZenca vaccine, Covishield does not feature on the list.
The news has sparked off a debate online, with many including politicians and lawmakers urging the Ministry of External Affairs to take up the issue. According to an Economic Times report the MEA has already raised the issue with the EMA and authorities in France. The report quoted sources to add that the government was studying the green pass policy and had held informal talks on the matter with the EU.
Serum Institute of India chief Adar Poonawalla also sought to reassure Indians, expressing hope for a speedy resolution. "I realise 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 wrote.