Domestically-manufactured Covishield, a version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, has been excluded from the list of anti-COVID-19 jabs that are eligible to avail the European Union (EU)'s 'Green Pass'.
Green Pass, which would be available from July 1 onwards, can be used for unrestricted movement in all EU member states for business and tourism purposes. The pass would be granted to those who have been inoculated with any of the vaccines that have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The EMA has so far cleared four vaccines - Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech), Moderna, Vaxzervria (AstraZeneca), Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
According to schengenvisainfo.com - EU's official portal for visa-related information - only the Vaxzervia version of AstraZeneca vaccine - manufactured in the UK and other sites in Europe - is eligible for Green Pass. The Covishield version of AstraZeneca, produced by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), has not been included in the list.
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.
Some of the EU member states, however, can amend the rules to allow entry to individuals vaccinated with non-EMA approved jabs. Iceland has decided to permit the entry of those vaccinated with any of the jabs approved by both EMA and World Health Organisation (WHO), which includes Covishield.
On other hand, France has clarified that it would facilitate easy entry for only those vaccinated with EMA-approved vaccines, and not with the vaccines manufactured in India and Russia.Notably, India's Covishield and Russia's Sputnik V is being used for mass immunisation drives not only in the two countries, but also in an array of low-income nations which have received both the vaccines under WHO's COVAX distribution network.