Vaccine Travel Row: 7 EU Countries, Switzerland Okay Covishield For Quarantine-Free Passage

New Delhi: Switzerland and seven European Union (EU) countries — Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland and Spain —have cleared Serum Institute of India’s Covishield vaccine for quarantine-free travel in their respective jurisdictions.

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The EU’s top medical body, European Medicines Agency (EMA), has approved only four vaccines so far. These are Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty, Moderna’s Covid vaccine, the AstraZeneca shot manufactured and sold in Europe as Vaxzervria, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen. Only those who have taken these shots are granted vaccination passports, and allowed to travel hassle-free amid the pandemic.

Covishield, which is manufactured in India by SII in partnership with Oxford University and AstraZeneca, is not on the list. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is also not on the EMA list.

The EU, however, also says, “member states may decide to extend this (the certificate) also to EU travellers that received another vaccine”.

Under these rules, Indians who are vaccinated with Covishield or Covaxin may be subject to quarantine if they travel to EU nations, unless these vaccines are cleared by the respective countries, NDTV reported.

A day earlier on Wednesday, India had formally requested EU member states to include both Covishield and Covaxin in their exemption list for hassle-free travel. According to media reports, the foreign ministry had also threatened to begin a reciprocal policy when it came to exemption from quarantine for travellers from EU.

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