In a big success for the government’s efforts to get India-made-vaccines recognised in Europe, Switzerland and seven members states of the European Union(EU)- Germany, Spain, Greece, Austria, Slovenia, Iceland and Ireland have decided to add the Covishield vaccine to their list of exemptions for the passport. The Covishield COVID-19 vaccine is made by the Indian company Serum Institute of India (SII) and is a major part of the country’s vaccination program. Recognition of the vaccine would make it easier for vaccinated Indians to travel to these countries.
Earlier, the Indian government had requested the EU member countries to recognise the two Indian made COVID-19 vaccines- Covishield and Covaxin and add them to the exemption list. India has also asked the EU to recognise the vaccine certificates issued by the CoWIN portal as proof of vaccination for Indian citizens adding that CoWIN can also be used to verify if the certificates are genuine.
On Wednesday, the central government told the EU that the non-inclusion of Covishield and Covaxin in the exemption list would lead to EU citizens being quarantined on arrival to India.
Notably, the EU is working towards implementing a vaccine passport mechanism that would allow for easy travel between the EU member states. Currently, only four vaccines- Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Vaxzervia(AstraZeneca) have been allowed by the European Medicines Agency. Those fully vaccinated with these vaccines would be issued vaccine passports, making them eligible to travel easily.
The EU’s ambassador to India, Bhutan Ugo Astuto, has clarified that the ‘EU Digital COVID Certificate’ or the vaccine passport is not compulsory for travel to the EU and is only being issued for easy and safe travel between the EU member countries.