Serum Institute asks govt to take up inclusion of Covishield in EU vaccination passport

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New Delhi, Jun 28 (PTI) Serum Institute of India (SII) has urged the government to take up inclusion of Covishield in the EU COVID-19 Vaccination Passport with the European Union and other countries, saying if not done it will affect students and business travellers, and disrupt the Indian and global economy.

Only four vaccines -- Comirnaty of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Vaxzervria by AstraZeneca-Oxford and, Johnson & Johnson's Janssen -- have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Only those inoculated with these vaccines will be given vaccination passports and allowed to travel within the EU during the pandemic.

'India has a large population. However, not including Covishield in the EU COVID-19 Vaccination Passport will not allow Covishield vaccinated people to travel to European countries and this will affect students, business travellers back and forth, and cause severe disruptions to our economy and to the global economy,' a source quoted Adar C Poonawalla, CEO of SII, as having communicated in a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

Sources said referring to Poonawalla's letter, the Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs at SII, Prakash Kumar Singh, has also sought Jaishankar's intervention at the highest level.

'It will be in the national interest as well as in the interest of people at large globally if Covishield vaccine is included in the EU COVID-19 Vaccination Passport,' Singh said.

Poonawalla, in his letter, is learnt to have mentioned that nearly 30 crore people have already been vaccinated with Covishield in India and it is expected that more than 50 per cent of Indian population will be protected with this vaccine finally.

The letter also mentions that AstraZeneca-SII Covishield has been manufactured under technology transfer from Oxford/AstraZeneca and that clinical trials of the vaccine have been conducted successfully abroad and has been approved by MHRA for emergency use approval.

Poonawalla on Monday said he has taken up the issues faced by Indians who have taken the Covishield jab travelling to the European Union at highest levels and hopes to resolve them soon.

'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,' Poonawalla said in a tweet.

However, people familiar with the issue said SII is yet to approach European Medicines Agency for approval. So the Ministry of External Affair's intervention at this stage is not on the table, they said.

The larger issue of vaccine cooperation may figure in Jaishankar's talks with EU officials on the sidelines of G20 foreign ministers meeting in Italy on Tuesday, sources said. PTI PLB MPB NSD NSD

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