Nine European nations add Covishield to Green Passport List

The EU Digital COVID Certificate or green pass will facilitate safe and smooth travel in the European Union and abroad. 

Created On: Jul 1, 2021 15:43 IST
EU Digital COVID Certificate
EU Digital COVID Certificate

Nine European nations have confirmed that they will allow travel by people who have been vaccinated with Serum Institute of India's Covishield vaccine. 

The nine nations include Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Greece, Iceland, Slovenia, Ireland and Estonia. All these nations have added SII's Covishield to their Green Passport List after diplomatic push. 

Estonia, in fact, confirmed that it will recognize all the vaccines authorized by the Government of India for the travel of Indians to the nation. 

This move came a day after India urged the European Union member states to include Covishield and Covaxin in ‘Green Passport List’ and allow Indians who have taken Covishield and Covaxin vaccines and travel to Europe.

India had also conveyed to the EU member states that it will adopt a policy of reciprocity and exempt European nationals holding the ‘Green Pass’ from mandatory quarantine in the country.

What is the EU's Green Passport?

The European Union’s Digital Covid certificate came into effect from July 1, 2021. The European Council had provisionally agreed to the regulation on May 20, 2021. The certificate known as a digital green certificate or green pass will allow EU citizens to move safely within the European Union during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The countries that are issuing EU COVID certificates include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Iceland, Spain, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland and Portugal.

Why is the Digital Covid certificate important?

The EU digital green pass will facilitate safe and smooth travel in the European Union and abroad. Till now, travelling to and within the EU during the pandemic was limited to essential travel only. 

The EU Digital COVID Certificate or green pass would restore freedom of movement in Europe.

What will EU Green Pass signify?

The EU digital green certificate will be a proof that the person has been vaccinated against coronavirus or has received a negative test result or has recovered from COVID-19.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate will cover 3 types of certificates:

-Vaccination

-COVID-19 tests

-Health certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.

How will the Digital Covid certificate work?

The certificate will have a unique QR code. When the certificate is checked, the QR code and traveller’s signature will be verified.

What is the issue?

The vaccines that are considered valid for the EU digital certificate include those authorised for use in the EU by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine.

However, the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, Covishield, is not included in the list. This means that Indians vaccinated with Covishield will not be allowed to travel to European nations. 

After the exclusion of Covishield from the GPL, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla, said that he has taken this up at the “highest levels”. He tweeted saying, "I realise that a lot of Indians who have taken COVISHIELD are facing issues with travel to the E.U., 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."

EAM Jaishankar takes up Covishield’s inclusion issue with top EU official

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had on June 29, 2021 raised the issue of Covishield's exclusion from EU's green passport list during a meeting with Josep Borrell Fontelles, the High Representative of the European Union.

EMA's statement 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued a clarification saying that it did not receive any application from Serum Institute and that Covishield does not have a marketing authorisation in the EU.

However, it stated that EU member states are free to include Covishield in their Green Pass List, as it has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).  

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