Up to 5million British holidaymakers could be BARRED from Europe

Up to 5million British holidaymakers could be BARRED from Europe because they were given Indian-made versions of AstraZeneca Covid jab

  • EMA does not recognise the Covishield AstraZeneca vaccine produced in India
  • This could cause issue for vaccinated Britons eagerly hoping to travel abroad
  • Still a theoretical issue as so few European nations are on the ‘green’ travel list 

Up to five million British holidaymakers could potentially be banned from Europe because they were given Indian-made versions of the AstraZeneca Covid jab.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) does not recognise a version of the vaccine produced by Covishield at the Serum Institute of India (SII), even though it is no less effective than jabs made elsewhere. 

Holidaymakers given this vaccine could therefore be refused entry at EU border crossings when batch numbers are checked on digital Covid passports.

The EU Digital Covid Certificate allows those who are fully vaccinated to move through Europe without having to quarantine or undergo further testing.

But it only recognises vaccines currently approved by the EMA: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made in Europe.  

Britons will be able to determine whether they had the SII jab by looking at their batch number, which appears on vaccination record cards.

Those who were given the Covishield jab will have the numbers 4120Z001, 4120Z002 or 4120Z003, according to the Telegraph. 

Up to five million British holidaymakers could potentially be banned from Europe because they were given Indian-made versions of the AstraZeneca Covid jab. Pictured: Stock image

However, the issue of British exclusion from the Continent is still largely theoretical because there are so few EU destinations on the ‘green’ travel list.

 The EMA has not approved the Covishield jab only because its Indian manufacturers have not yet sought a licence for the vaccine in Europe, reports say. 

WHICH ASTRAZENECA BATCH NUMBERS ARE AFFECTED? 

Britons who were jabbed with certain batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine could be barred from entering Europe.

This is because the inoculation was produced in India, and the European Medicines Agency has not approved this for the EU Digital Covid Certificate.

This is not because the jab is any less effective, but because Covishield has not yet applied for a licence in Europe.

The batch numbers are: 4120Z001, 4120Z002 or 4120Z003.

There is no evidence the vaccine is any less effective than the Vaxzevria AstraZeneca jab, which is produced in the UK and Europe.

Despite the EMA refusing to accept the SII jab, nine European countries have reportedly told India they will accept travellers inoculated with Covishield.

According to sources at the Indian Foreign Ministry, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland have disregarded the EMA’s dismissal. 

Insiders added that Estonia has confirmed it will recognise all vaccines authorities by the Indian government. 

Minister Subrahmanyan Jaishankar said he raised the issue of authorisation of the Covishield vaccine during a meeting with EU representatives in Italy this week.

Another insider said India has told the EU that it would lift quarantine for anyone carrying the EU Digital Covid Certificate if Indians were allowed equal access.  

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

Friction has emerged elsewhere over the issue, with Covid vaccine facility Covax urging leaders to consider all people inoculated with products approved by WHO equally.

The Covishield jab was widely provided to people who live in Africa, and Covax says the EMA’s decision to not authorise it discriminates against low-income countries.     

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) does not recognise a version of the vaccine produced by Covishield at the Serum Institute of India (SII), even though it is no less effective than jabs made elsewhere. Pictured: Stock image

‘Any measure that only allows people protected by a subset of WHO-approved vaccines to benefit from the re-opening of travel into and with that region would effectively create a two-tier system,’ a statement said.

That would widen ‘the global vaccine divide’ and exacerbate ‘inequities we have already seen in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines,’ it added. 

A spokesperson for the European Commission said entry into the EU should be allowed to people ‘fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines authorised in the EU.’

The Department for Health has refused to say exactly how many doses of the Indian-made jab have been administered in the UK, but five million were imported in 2021.

A statement said: ‘As we continue to cautiously reopen international travel, NHS Covid Pass will be a key service that allows people to demonstrate their Covid-19 vaccination status.’

It added that all AstraZeneca doses used in the UK will appear under the European name –  Vaxzevria – on the NHS app, even if they were made in India. 

They can, therefore, only be identified by the batch number.   

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