India has requested European countries to grant exemption to people who have taken Covishield and Covaxin shots -- the first two COVID-19 vaccines that had got DGCI nod for emergency use and are manufactured in the country.
European Union countries have been requested to accept vaccination certificates issued by CoWIN.
India has, in turn, vowed to institute a reciprocal policy for the recognition of EU digital certificates.
The Government of India has said once Bharat Biotech manufactured Covaxin and the Serum Institute of India manufactured Covishield are included in the EU digital certificate, India would also grant exemption to citizens from EU member states from mandatory quarantine if they are carrying EU digital certificates.
The development comes hours after Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla expressed confidence that Covishield -- developed jointly by AstraZeneca and Oxford University -- will receive the European Medicines Agency (EMA)’s approval within a month.
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.
He said: “We are quite confident that in a month EMA will approve Covishield. There is no reason why not to because it is based on AstraZeneca data and our product is identical to AstraZeneca (more or less) and it has been approved by WHO, UK MHRA. So, it is just a matter of time.”
The EMA has not received a request for the approval of Covishield in the ‘vaccination passport’ with the European Union, EU said a day ago, adding to the concerns of vaccinated Indians who are not being allowed entry to European countries for non-essential travel.
Meanwhile, Covaxin has inched closer to getting approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) as rolling data submission is slated to begin in July. Once data submission begins, Covaxin will be just one step away from getting the WHO nod. Only the evaluation process will be pending then, which is usually a little long-drawn.