Some European countries to allow travellers from India inoculated with Covishield – Indian govt sources

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A man displays a vial AstraZeneca’s COVISHIELD vaccine as the country receives its first batch of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines under COVAX scheme, in Accra, Ghana February 24, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko/File Photo/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Germany and Spain are among nine countries in Europe who have told India they will accept travelers inoculated with Covishield, the Indian-made version of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, Indian foreign ministry sources said on Thursday.

Friction emerged between India and Europe in recent days over the exclusion by the European Union vaccine passport program of Covishield as one of its accepted vaccines.

From Thursday, the program allows anyone who is fully vaccinated with any of five Western-made vaccines – Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca – travel freely within the bloc.

The exclusion of Covishield, which is produced by India’s Serum Institute using analogous methods to the EU-approved AstraZeneca vaccine Vaxzevria but does not have EU market authorization, stoked anger and the treat of retaliatory measures by India against travelers from Europe.

An Indian foreign ministry source said on Thursday that Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland had informed the Indian government that Covishield would be accepted for the purposes of travel.

Estonia has said it will recognize all the vaccines authorized by the Indian government, the source said, which would include Covaxin that has been developed by local firm Bharat Biotech.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyan Jaishankar tweeted earlier in the week that he had taken up the issue of authorization of the Indian version of AstraZeneca during his meeting with EU representatives on the sidelines of a G20 foreign ministers meeting in Italy.

Another foreign ministry source said that India had told the EU that it would lift quarantine requirements for anyone carrying the EU Digital Covid certificate, but they would have to allow equal access to Indians traveling with vaccines made in India.

“We have also conveyed to EU Member States that India will institute a reciprocal policy for recognition of the EU Digital Covid Certificate,” the second source said.

Once the EU listed the two vaccines currently being administered in India in its digital certificate, then India will waive quarantine requirements from people coming from EU countries, the second source said.

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