Synopsis-Of the two vaccines in use in India, only Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) under licence from AstraZeneca, has WHO approval.
Indian vaccine makers may face a new hurdle, as western countries move ahead with plans to issue “vaccine passports”, that would allow entry only to travellers who are fully vaccinated with specific approved vaccines.
Earlier this week, the European Union (EU) said that it will allow travellers from countries with a “good epidemiological situation”, as well as travellers who have been fully vaccinated with vaccines approved by EU regulators. It also said that it could consider adding vaccines that have been approved by the WHO.
Some EU countries such as Greece have announced that they are considering allowing fully vaccinated people to enter the country. Canada and the UK are also considering a mechanism to allow vaccinated travellers.
Of the two vaccines in use in India, only Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) under licence from AstraZeneca, has WHO approval. Presently, the WHO has approved vaccines in use in the US — Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson — as well as the Oxford-Astrazeneca jab in use in the UK. It is expected to consider the approval of Chinese vaccines such as CanSino and Sinovac.
Companies such as Cadila Healthcare and Gennova which have vaccines under development have told ET they will be looking at getting an approval from the western regulators and the WHO. Covishield is also approved by MHRA and Health Canada, and the EMA, since it is the same vaccine as AstraZeneca.
The global health body, however, has not endorsed the idea of vaccine passports. “At present it is WHO’s position that national authorities and conveyance operators should not introduce requirements of proof of Covid-19 vaccination for international travel as a condition for departure or entry, given that there are still critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission”, the organisation said in a statement.
“In addition, considering that there is limited availability of vaccines, preferential vaccination of travellers could result in inadequate supplies of vaccines for priority populations considered at high risk of severe Covid disease.”
Currently, the only vaccine passport that is in use across the world is the vaccine certificate for yellow fever. Travellers visiting certain countries in Africa need to get a yellow fever vaccine or be vaccinated at the border.
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