HomeNewsImmunised but banned: EU says not all Covid vaccines equal

Immunised but banned: EU says not all Covid vaccines equal

After Dr Ifeanyi and his wife had received two doses AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccination in Nigeria, they thought they would be able to travel to Europe this summer. They were wrong.

This couple, along with millions of others who were vaccinated in a UN-backed effort could be prevented from traveling to Europe and other countries. These nations won’t recognize the Indian-made vaccine.

AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Europe have been approved by the continent’s drug regulatory agencies. However, India-made shots have not been granted the go ahead. EU regulators stated that AstraZeneca had not completed all paperwork regarding the Indian factory, including information about its production methods and quality control standards.

Experts disagree with this assessment, calling it discriminatory and unscientific. They point out that the factory has been inspected by the World Health Organization and they have approved it. Officials from the health sector claim that this situation will not only make travel more difficult and slow down fragile economies, but it will also weaken vaccine confidence as some shots may be labeled substandard.

Authorities in Europe are increasing vaccination coverage and are trying to save the summer tourism season by easing coronavirus border restrictions.

The European Union launched its digital Covid-19 certificate earlier this month. This allows EU residents to freely move within the bloc of 27 nations as long as they have been vaccinated with at least one of the four shots approved by the European Medicines Agency and have had a negative test or proof that they have recently recovered from the virus.

The US and Britain are still closed to outsiders, but the EU certificate can be used as a model for travel during the Covid-19 era. It is also a way to boost economies.

Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are all officially approved vaccines by the EU. They do not include AstraZeneca shot from India, or any vaccines used in developing nations such as those made in China and Russia.

Each EU country can set their own rules and regulations for visitors from within and outside the bloc. This creates confusion for tourists. Many EU countries, such as Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland allow people to enter if their vaccines have not been approved by the EU. Others, like France and Italy don’t.

Nsofor was shocked to learn he might be barred.

Nsofor stated that the Indian-made vaccine that he had received was authorized by WHO for emergency use. It had also been provided through COVAX, a UN-backed program to give shots to the poorest parts of the globe.

WHO approved the visit to Serum Institute of India to verify that they had followed good manufacturing practices and met quality control standards.

Nsofor stated that while we are grateful to the EU for funding COVAX, they now discriminate against a vaccine they actively funded and encouraged. “This will allow for all sorts of conspiracy theories about the fact that the vaccines they’re receiving in Africa aren’t as good as those they have in the West.”

Ivo Vlaev is a British professor who advises the government during Covid-19 on behavioral science. He believes that mistrust could be fuelled by Western countries refusing to recognize vaccines from poor countries.

Vlaev stated that people who are already suspicious about vaccines will be even more so. They could lose faith in government health messages and be less inclined to follow Covid rules.

Dr Mesfin Tessema, director for health at the International Rescue Committee, stated that countries who refuse to recognize vaccines approved by WHO are ignoring scientific evidence. “Vaccines that meet WHO’s criteria should be accepted. He said that it could be a sign of racism if the vaccines do not meet WHO’s threshold.

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WHO called on countries to recognize all vaccines it has approved, including two Chinese-made.

The UN health agency stated this month that countries that refuse to comply are “undermining trust in lifesaving vaccines that were already proven to be safe, effective, and affecting uptake and potentially putting billions at risk,” in a statement.

Adar Poonawalla (CEO of the Serum Institute of India) tweeted in June that he was worried about Indians who travel to the EU without being vaccinated. He said that he would raise the issue at the highest level with countries and regulators.

Stefan De Keersmaeker spoke for the EU executive arm and said that regulators had to inspect the Indian factory’s production process. He said that he was not trying to raise doubts about the vaccine.

AstraZeneca claimed that it submitted paperwork regarding the Indian factory only recently to the EU drug regulatory authority. It did not explain why it hadn’t done so sooner, after the agency’s January decision.

Public health experts warn that countries that refuse to recognize WHO-backed vaccines could hinder global efforts to restart safe travel.

Dr Raghib Ali, University of Cambridge, stated that “you can’t just cut countries off the rest of the globe indefinitely.” “To exclude certain people from certain countries due to the vaccine they have received is completely inconsistent, because we know these vaccines are extremely protective.”

Nsofor stated that he and his wife are still trying to decide where they will spend their summer vacation. They are currently leaning towards East Africa or Singapore.

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