Africa Centres for Disease and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the African Union (AU) have expressed their concern after it has been revealed that the EU Digital COVID Passport does not recognise the vaccine doses that were donated to numerous African countries through the COVAX initiative.
The EU COVID pass only recognises the AstraZeneca doses, also branded as Vaxzevria produced by European Medicines Agency (EMA) manufacturers in Europe, China, South Korea, and the US among the doses donated in Africa, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
In contrast, the vaccine doses made by the largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, also known as Covishield, which has been categorised as the backbone of the contribution from the COVAX initiative to countries with low and medium-income will not be recognised.
Nonetheless, Estonia, Spain, Iceland, Slovenia, and Greece are the EU countries that have confirmed that they recognise Covishield vaccine certificates despite the Commission’s decision not to. Several other countries, Austria, Germany, Ireland, and Switzerland, reportedly also accept this vaccine, but no official announcement has been made by the authorities of these countries.
“In the EU, the vaccine called Covishield does not currently have a marketing authorisation. Even though it may use an analogous production technology to Vaxzevria, Covishield as such is not currently approved under EU rules. This is because vaccines are biological products,” EMA stated.
Regarding the matter, EMA stated that the agency is not to be held accountable for any of the decisions related to COVID-19 vaccination status and the travelling restrictions for those wishing to travel to the EU.
In addition, the agency noted that since the smallest differences in the manufacturing conditions can make discrepancies in the final product, the EU law demands the manufacturing and the process of production to be evaluated and approved before any decision is made.
The European Union emphasised once again that the COVID passport is not a precondition for travel into the block and that the Member States can permit entry to persons who have been immunised with vaccines that have completed the WHO Emergency Use Listing process.
Since the two vaccine doses of the Indian-produced AstraZeneca vaccine do not allow travellers to enter the EU, a large number of the world’s population is excluded from the current travel policy of the block.
As such, Africa CDC and AU have encouraged the EU Commission to try and increase mandatory access to the COVID pass for vaccines that are suitable from global rollout utilising the COVAX facility supported by the EU.
“The current applicability guidelines put at risk the equitable treatment of persons having received their vaccines in countries profiting from the EU-supported COVAX Facility, including the majority of the African Union (AU) the Member States,” the joint statement of AU and Africa CDC reads.
Source: Schengenvisainfo news