There have been concerns about Indians travelling to Europe who have received the Covishield vaccination because the vaccine, a Serum Institute of India variant of the AstraZeneca vaccine, has not yet been licenced by the European Medicines Agency.

Covishield is currently recognised as proof of Covid-19 vaccination for travel in nine European countries, including significant European Union (EU) members such as Germany and Spain, as well as non-EU states such as Switzerland and Iceland.

EU members Austria, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as Iceland and Switzerland, which aren’t in the EU but are part of the Schengen visa regime, recognise Covishield for Covid-19 vaccination for travel purposes.

Travel between India and Europe, on the other hand, is still severely restricted. India has an air bubble agreement with only one of the nine nations, Germany, which is a vital transit point for Indian nationals travelling to Europe and North America.

Some of these nations, such as Switzerland, are now accepting visa applications from fully vaccinated individuals who have received doses approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Union (EU), or their national authorities.

On Tuesday, German Ambassador Walter Lindner tweeted that a double dose of Covishield is considered “valid proof of anti-Covid vaccination,” but that this does not “modify existing travel or visa restrictions for travellers from areas of concern/virus variants.”

The Indian government has informed the EU’s 27 member states that it will recognise Covid-19 vaccines for travel on a reciprocity basis, and that EU citizens with the “green pass” will be exempt from mandatory quarantine only if the bloc recognises vaccines administered in India, such as Covishield and Covaxin.

India also requested that EU governments accept Covishield and Covaxin vaccines for Indian nationals travelling to Europe, as the vaccines have been approved by WHO or a national authority. The people of India say the Indian vaccination certificates can be verified by European authorities on the Co-WIN portal.

The EU has stated that the EU Digital Covid Certificate or green pass is not a requirement for travel, and that individual member states can accept WHO-approved vaccines such as Covishield.

WHO has yet to grant Covaxin an emergency use certification, and its maker, Bharat Biotech, has not applied to the European Medicines Agency for approval. Apart from India, Covaxin has been approved by Guyana, Iran, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Paraguay, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe.

The green pass framework, which goes into effect on July 1, is designed to make free movement within the EU easier during the pandemic. Under this scheme, anyone who have been vaccinated with any of the four EMA-approved vaccines will be exempt from travel restrictions inside the EU.

During a meeting on Tuesday with Josep Borell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar raised the issue of approving the Covishield for travel to Europe. The two leaders met in Italy on the sidelines of a G20 conference of foreign ministers.

To help the tourism industry recover from the pandemic, the EU’s 27 member nations have agreed to relax travel restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors from outside the bloc.

Also Read: Explained: Covishield Excluded From EU Green Pass


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