India has subtly warned of retaliatory action if its citizens inoculated with Covaxin or Covishield are placed in quarantine or subjected to other travel restrictions while visiting any European Union nations.
New Delhi has asked the European Union’s member nations to individually exempt its citizens inoculated with Covaxin or Covishield from travel restrictions even though the two anti-Covid-19 vaccines are not among the ones approved by the bloc for its “Green Pass” programme coming into effect on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government also promised that if any EU nation recognised vaccination certificates issued on its Co-WIN portal, it would also reciprocate the gesture and would exempt the citizens of the concerned nation from mandatory quarantine on arrival in India, in case they were inoculated with any anti-Covid-19 jabs approved by the health authorities of the respective nation or the 27-member-bloc and carried the “Green Pass”, sources said.
New Delhi subtly conveyed to the EU nations that if any one of them failed to grant exemptions from travel restrictions to any visiting Indian vaccinated with Covaxin or Covishield, citizens of that nation would have to undergo quarantine on arrival in India, even if they were inoculated with jabs approved by EMA or the health authorities of the respective country.
The “Green Pass” – formally known as the EU Digital Covid Certificate – will be recognised by the members of the bloc from Thursday. It is proof in digital format or on paper that a person has been vaccinated against the Covid-19, tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection or recovered from infection.
The certificate will be issued to the citizens of any EU nation if they were inoculated with vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Any person having the certificate will be exempted from travel restrictions within the EU. The individual EU member states, however, can also accept extend the same benefit to people who were administered vaccines authorised by respective national health authorities or by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The EMA did not approve any of the two ‘Made-in-India’ vaccines – Covishield or Covaxin. The Serum Institute of India (SII) recently applied for authorisation from the EMA for its Covishield, which was developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
It, however, approved Vaxzervria, another version of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. Adar Poonawala, the CEO of the SII, said that the company was confident to get EMA approval for the Covishield within a month. The WHO and the health authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland, however, already granted approval to the Covishield.
The Covaxin has not yet been approved by the WHO or any other foreign nation.
Apart from Vaxzervria, the EMA so far approved only three other vaccines for the EU Green Pass programme – Comirnaty of Pfizer/BioNTech, mRNA-1273 (Spikevax in the US) of Moderna, and Janssen of Johnson & Johnson.
A source in New Delhi said that the Government of India had conveyed to the EU member states that the authenticity of the vaccination certificates issued on the Co-WIN could be confirmed on the portal itself.
“We have also conveyed to EU member states that India will institute a reciprocal policy for recognition of the EU Digital Covid Certificate,” said the source.
“Upon notification of Covishield and Covaxin for inclusion in the EU Digital Covid Certificate and recognition of Indian Co-WIN vaccination certificates, Indian health authorities would reciprocally exempt the concerned EU Member State for exemption from mandatory quarantine all those persons carrying EU Digital Covid Certificate.”
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