European Union's envoy to India Ugo Astuto has said that each EU member state can have WHO-approved vaccines on the national list for travel, days after it emerged that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) does not list India made Covishield.  Speaking to our Principal Diplomatic Correspondent, Sidhant Sibal, Astuto said, "individual member states will also have the option to accept the vaccination that has been authorized by the world health organization or WHO."

Covishield, while WHO authorized, is not listed by the European Medicines Agency. EMA supervises medicinal products for marketing authorization in the block. The EU green pass that comes into effect from 1st July and eases travel movement in the block uses the EMA list for its generation. 

Question: What is the EU stance over the absence of Covishield when it comes to the EU green pass?

Ugo Astuto: The EU Digital COVID certificate is meant to facilitate safe movement during the COVID-19 pandemic within the European Union. It will serve as proof that the person was vaccinated against COVID-19 or received a negative result or recovered from COVID. The aim of the digital certificate is to facilitate free movement inside European Union but it is not a pre-condition to travel. Persons for instance who have not been vaccinated will continue to travel, based on the current restrictions and limitations which are familiar by now, quarantine, testing. For the purpose of the digital covid certificate, individual member states will also have the option to accept the vaccination that has been authorized by the world health organization or WHO. Besides the list of the vaccination authorized by EMA, individual member states can take the decision to include in own national list, other vaccination authorized by WHO, and I understand Covishield is in the situation. Concerning the possibility of EMA authorization, I have read a statement and as of yesterday, they have not received the request for approval of Covishield. I am sure, EMA will examine any such request based on its procedures. EMA does not investigate new drugs on its own and needs to receive a request from the relevant countries.

Question: What is the way forward for ease in the travel of Indian nationals? And what is the basis of using the EMA list for the EU green pass? It is a marketing list, any inter EU conversation on that?

Ugo Astuto: The council has adopted recently, a revised recommendation updating approach to travel from outside the European Union. Council recommendation aims to ease the current temporary restrictions on non-essential travelling to EU. Taking into account the progress of vaccination campaigns, the development in the pandemic worldwide. The situation is constantly being reviewed, the experience will also serve as a test to explore how best to adapt to the easing of temporary restrictions from countries and develop appropriate modalities. But this is a work in progress. When it comes to India, we have temporary restrictions in place on non-essential travel due to the situation of pandemics as viruses of interest and viruses of concern have been detected. The situation is fluid and it is regularly reviewed, lets hope for the best.

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