Many in India are concerned about the European Union’s decision to exclude Covishield from the list of approved vaccines for the digital green certificate, an EU-wide travel pass.
Let’s start with an explanation of what the EU digital pass is and why it’s being implemented.
The EU Digital COVID Certificate (green pass) provides digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from the infection. The certificate has been introduced to ensure secure free movement of residents in the EU through the pandemic and will be adopted by EU member states and it will assist in ensuring that current restrictions are lifted in a coordinated manner.
When travelling, the bearer of an EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempt from free movement limitations in principle: Member States should not impose additional travel restrictions on EU Digital COVID Certificate holders unless they are necessary and reasonable to protect public health.
In such a circumstance – for example, in response to novel variations of concern – the Member State would be required to notify the Commission and all other Member States, as well as justify its decision.
The green pass, which was created to make it easier to travel inside and between member states, is not required for persons travelling from outside the European Union.
Those who are currently allowed to enter the EU but do not have a green pass will be subject to the standard travel restrictions and quarantine procedures that apply to the country they are visiting.
Why hasn’t Covishield been included to this list?
At present, the four vaccines that are accepted for the EU Digital Covid Certificate are — Comirnaty of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Vaxzervria by AstraZeneca-Oxford and, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen — have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
These four vaccines are the ones that are currently being administered in the EU. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) commented on Monday that SII’s Covishield was not included in the list of approved vaccinations for the ‘Green Pass’ since it does not have EU marketing authorization.
In the meanwhile, in order to contain the spread of Covid-19, temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU will remain in place from a number of non-EU countries, including India. EU member states will gradually remove these temporary travel restrictions at their external borders based on the evolution of the health situation.