EU member states will have option to accept WHO authorised vaccines like Covishield to issue certificate for travel: Official

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New Delhi, Jun 29 (PTI) Individual member states of the European Union will have the option to accept vaccines authorised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) like Covishield for obtaining the bloc's digital COVID certificate or 'Green Pass', an EU official said on Tuesday.

The official said the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not received an authorisation request till Monday for the Covishield vaccine manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII).

In a meeting with the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Italy, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar underlined the importance of 'equitable vaccine access and a fair travel regime'.

'A good conversation with EU Commissioner for International Partnerships @JuttaUrpilaine. Discussed the Covid challenge, our Connectivity Partnership and development cooperation. Underlined the importance of equitable vaccine access and a fair travel regime,' he tweeted.

The Covishield vaccine is yet to be cleared by the EMA. There have been apprehensions in India that people who took Covishield jabs are unlikely to be eligible to travel to the European Union member states under its 'Green Pass' scheme.

The EU Digital COVID certificate or 'Green Pass' will be mandatory to travel to European countries and the document will serve as proof that a person is vaccinated against COVID-19.

'The aim of the EU Digital COVID Certificate is to facilitate free movement inside the EU. It is not a pre-condition to travel,' said the official.

'For the purpose of the Digital COVID Certificate, individual member states will have the option to accept also vaccinations that have been authorised by the World Health Organization, such as Covishield,' the official added.

The EU Digital Covid Certificate is meant to facilitate safe free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic within the EU member countries and it will serve as proof that a person was vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the infection.

'Concerning a possible EMA authorisation for Covishield, as of yesterday, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) stated that it had not received a request for approval,' the official said.

'It will examine any such request when received, as per its procedures. The EMA does not investigate new drugs on its own unless it is asked by the relevant companies,' the official said.

The EMA has already approved four COVID-19 vaccines which included Vaxzevria, the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in the UK and EU-member countries.

The SII makes Covishield in India with a licence from AstraZeneca.

The official said temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU are currently in place from many non-EU countries, including India due to the pandemic.

'EU member states shall gradually lift these temporary travel restrictions at the external borders, based on developments of the health situation,' the official said. PTI MPB RT RT

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