Ugo Astuto Photograph:( WION )
While Covishield is on WHO's authorised list, the India-made vaccine is not listed by the European Medicines Agency. EMA supervises medicinal products for marketing authorisation in the bloc.
European Union's envoy to India Ugo Astuto has said that each EU member state can have WHO-approved vaccines on the national list for travel, days after it emerged that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) did not list India-made Covishield vaccine.
Speaking to our Principal Diplomatic Correspondent, Sidhant Sibal, Astuto said, "individual member states will also have the option to accept the vaccination that has been authorised by the World Health Organization."
Covishield, while on WHO's authorised list, is not listed by the European Medicines Agency. EMA supervises medicinal products for marketing authorisation in the bloc. The EU green pass that comes into effect from July 1 and eases travel movement in the bloc uses the EMA list.
WION: What is the EU stance over the absence of Covishield vaccine when it comes to EU green pass?
Ugo Astuto: The EU digital Covid certificate is meant to facilitate safe movement during the pandemic within the European Union. It will serve as proof that the person was vaccinated against the virus or received a negative result or recovered from COVID-19.
The aim of the digital certificate is to facilitate free movement inside the European Union but it is not a pre-condition to travel. Persons for instance who have not been vaccinated will continue to travel based on the current restrictions and limitations which are familiar by now, quarantine, testing.
For the purpose of the digital Covid certificate, individual member states will also have the option to accept the vaccination that has been authorized by the WHO.
Besides the list of the vaccination authorised by EMA, individual member states can take the decision to include in own national list, other vaccination authorized by WHO, and I understand Covishield is in the situation.
As far as EMA authorisation is concerned, I have read a statement and as of yesterday, they have not received the request for approval of Covishield. I am sure, EMA will examine any such request based on its procedures. EMA does not investigate new drugs on its own and needs to receive a request from the relevant countries.
WION: What is the way forward to ease travel for Indian nationals? What is the basis of using the EMA list for the EU green pass? Has there been any inter-EU conversation on it?
Ugo Astuto: The council has adopted recently a revised recommendation updating approach to travel from outside the European Union.
Council recommendation aims to ease the current temporary restrictions on non-essential travelling to the EU taking into account the progress of vaccination campaigns, the development in the pandemic worldwide. The situation is constantly being reviewed, the experience will also serve as a test to explore how best to adapt to the easing of temporary restrictions from countries and develop appropriate modalities.
But this is a work in progress. When it comes to India, we have temporary restrictions in place on non-essential travel due to the situation of the pandemic as the viruses of interest and viruses of concern have been detected. The situation is fluid and it is regularly reviewed, lets hope for the best.