Green Pass – Which European Countries Accept Covishield for Europe Travel?
European Union member states recently rolled out its “Green Pass” scheme. There was an anxiety in India that the people who took Covaxin and Covishield won’t be eligible to travel to Europe under the scheme.
What is ‘Green Pass’?
It is the European Union’s Digital Covid-19 certificate is a document to facilitate free movement during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under this framework, the individuals who have taken vaccines that are authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be exempted from any travel restrictions within the EU.
Who is eligible for ‘Green Pass’?
- A person who has been vaccinated against Covid-19 by a vaccine that is in the World Health Organization emergency use listing
- Must be tested recently for COVID-19 and had a negative PCR test report
- Persons who have recently been recovered from Covid-19
Update as of 1st July 2021
Amid an ongoing struggle between India and European Union over the pass for Covid-19 vaccines, nine European countries have added Covishield vaccines to their list of approved vaccines.
The European countries that have accepted the Covishield vaccine include seven EU member states – Austria, Greece, Slovenia, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, and Spain.
The other two non-member states of Europe – Switzerland and Iceland have also cleared Covishield. Separately Estonia has confirmed that it will recognize all the vaccines authorized by India for incoming travelers.
The Exemption sighs relief to those who plan to travel to these European countries. This news of accepting Covishield by 9 countries has emerged as good news for Indians who have been vaccinated by Covishield. However, European travel from India remains tightly restricted.
Update as of 28th July 2021
On 28th July 2021, the Government of India’s Minister of External Affairs (State), Sh V. Muraleedharan, said in the lower house that, “So far 17 EU Member States (Austria, France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden) and Switzerland have recognized Covishield as a vaccine for ease of travel restrictions. Estonia also recognized Covaxin for the same”
After the decision by the EU Member states, the government of India reiterated that it would follow the principle of reciprocity on recognition of vaccination certificates for ease of travel restrictions.
Covid-19 Vaccines Approved in India
India’s regulators have approved 3 covid-19 vaccines to be inoculated to the Indian population.
- Covishield, an Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India
- Covaxin, an indigenous covid-19 vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech
- Sputnik V, a Russian vaccine, is manufactured under license by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories in India.
Breakup by Vaccine Type – Administered in India
Below is the breakup of doses (1st and 2nd collective) administered to date, it is evident that Covishield makes the majority chunk, however, Covaxin has been administered to 12% of the population.
Hence, the European Union decision for recognition of Covishield would benefit the majority of vaccinated Indians but still, a proportion is awaiting the inclusion of Covaxin into WHO’s Emergency Use Listing.
WHO Process of Emergency Use Listing
WHO follows a four-step process to evaluate the application for inclusion of the Covid-19 vaccine in the Emergency use listing.
Below are the details of steps and the respective status for Covaxin:
- An acceptance of the manufacturer’s expression of interest (EOI): Bharat Biotech’s expression of interest was accepted on April 19, 2021.
- A pre-submission meeting between WHO and the manufacturer: Bharat Biotech and WHO experts had the meeting on June 23, 2021
- Acceptance of the dossier for review by WHO: Bharat Biotech submitted the dossier in early July and for Emergency use listing is under review by the technical experts for consideration
- Decision on status of assessment, and the final decision on approval: It usually takes 4-6 weeks after submission of dossier
In the latest update, Dr. Mariangela Simao, a WHO assistant director-general for vaccines, says the UN health agency’s assessment of the Bharat Biotech vaccine was “quite advanced” and officials hoped for a decision by mid-September.
Which countries have authorized Covaxin?
As per the reports, in addition to India, Guyana, Iran, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Paraguay, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, and Estonia have approved Covaxin as the Covid-19 vaccine.