Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII), has said that he took up the issue of the European Union not recognising the AstraZeneca vaccine doses produced by his company, branded as Covishield, in its ‘Green Pass’ for post vaccination travel to and from the bloc."I realise that a lot of Indians who have taken Covishield are facing issues with travel to the E.U., I assure everyone, I have taken this up at the highest levels and hope to resolve this matter soon, both with regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries," (sic) he tweeted on June 28.
I realise that a lot of Indians who have taken COVISHIELD are facing issues with travel to the E.U., I assure everyone, I have taken this up at the highest levels and hope to resolve this matter soon, both with regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries.
— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) June 28, 2021
Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Poonawalla said he has already applied to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for approval of Covishield in the European markets. He added that he is taking up the issue of clearance of Covishield with the EMA and diplomatically.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
“Covishield is already cleared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (UKMHRA), so I hope the EMA clearance will also come on over the next few weeks,” he added.
The EU came out with its Green Pass on June 27, wherein it specified that the digital “vaccine passport” will be available from July 1 for those who received vaccines with EU-wide marketing authorisation.
So far, the EMA has authorised four vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen and AstraZeneca (branded Vaxzervria).
The decision has become controversial as India and many other low and middle-income countries dependent on India and the World Health Organisation’s COVAX initiative have received Covishield jabs.