The Africa Union has expressed concern over the European Union decision to bar people vaccinated by the AstraZeneca vaccine made in India from the Green Pass.
In a move that has raised derision from various quarters, the European Union decided that only people who had gotten the AstraZeneca vaccine authorized in the EU would get the Green Pass.
However, those vaccinated by the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India would be excluded.
Excluded from EU license
“Thus, while the AstraZeneca vaccine produced and authorized in Europe (Vaxzervfia) is included, the same formation of vaccine (Covishield) produced under license by the Serum Institute of India (SII) is excluded,” The AU said.
“Under these restrictions people who received Covishield, despite being able to demonstrate proof of vaccine, would continue to be subjected to public health restrictions, including movement limitation and testing requirements, with considerable administrative and financial implications.”
Backbone for low-income countries
The AU said that the move was a concern as the Covishield was the backbone of the EU-supported COVAX vaccine. The vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute in India is for lower-income countries. Thus, they may not apply for the EU-market authorization.
The AU said that since the vaccine made by SII would not apply for the EU-market authorization, the ‘Green Pass’ would last indefinitely.
On Monday, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) said that the Serum Institute of India had not yet applied for the authorization to get the passport.
However, even then, the European Commission has left it up to individual member states to decide whether they would allow travellers who had gotten vaccines approved by WHO or at the national level.
India and Africa are largely using the Covishield jabs, with the vaccine widely available and distributed by COVAX.
There remain concerns that the wealthier nations are now using such tactics to discriminate against people from lower-income countries.