A health worker prepares to inculate a student with a dose of the Covishield vaccine during a vaccination camp in Amritsar on July 16, 2021.
A health worker prepares to inculate a student with a dose of the Covishield vaccine during a vaccination camp in Amritsar on July 16, 2021.
Photo: AFP

Over the last few weeks, as the European Union rolled out a COVID-19 vaccine 'green pass' to facilitate smoother travel to member states, India has faced a few hurdles. While the EU's list of approved vaccines includes Vaxzevria (a version of the AstraZenca-Oxford vaccine), the Indian version has been excluded. This in turn had created quite the furore, with Indian officials taking up the issue with the EU. But while many of the member states have accepted the vaccine, it would seem that nothing else has changed.

Towards the end of June, EU Ambassador to India Ugo Astuto had told news agency ANI that the Serum Institute of India (SII) has apparently not yet applied to the EMA for approval. Nearly three weeks later, this remains the EU's stance. At a recent press meeting, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that it was yet to receive any application from the SII seeking the authorisation of Covishield.

"For the COVID-19 vaccine Covishield to be evaluated for use in the EU, the developer needs to submit a formal marketing authorisation application to EMA, which to date has not been received," EU body said.

At the same time, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla has insists that the application had been submitted quite some time ago. "The EMA is absolutely correct in asking us to apply, which we have through AstraZeneca, our partners, a month ago, and that process has to take its time. Even the UK MHRA, WHO took its time and we have applied to the EMA," he said while addressing the India Global Forum 2021 at the tail end of June. There has been no follow-up response to the EMA's recent assertion.

The European Union's Digital Covid certificate or "Green Pass" came into effect on Thursday with an aim to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this framework, persons who have taken vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be exempted from travel restrictions within the EU region. The individual member states have the flexibility to also accept vaccines that have been authorised at the national level or those recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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