The European Medicine Agency (EMA) has failed to include the Covishield version of the coronavirus jab into the European Union passport scheme rolled out this week. The agency’s decision will leave British tourists hoping to holiday on the continent facing further hurdles, including quarantine if they have received a version of the AstraZeneca jab produced by the Serum Institute of India. Virologist Dr Chris Smith told LBC the reasoning behind the decision remained “unclear” as he urged the EMA to “rectify soon” the resolution.
Dr Smith said: “I mean, the way in which this is being made is it should be made to a standard and assessed to a standard.
“That’s what quality control and quality assurance is all about and India’s Serum Institute have been vaccinating the world for a really long time.
“It’s something of a mystery to me why a vaccine made to identical specifications in one place should not be accepted onto the list.
“Maybe it’s an oversight, I’m not sure.”
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Dr Smith added: “I hope they’ll rectify it soon because a lot of people are receiving that vaccine and it’s going to impact a lot of people.”
India has been administering the AstraZeneca vaccine, made domestically by the Serum Institute of India, which said last month it planned to step up monthly production from July, to nearly 100 million doses.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has played down concerns that up to five million Britons could be barred from taking holidays in the European Union because their vaccinations are not recognised by its passport scheme.
Mr Johnson said on Friday that he is “very confident” that the issue, which arose because Indian-manufactured doses of AstraZeneca have a different name, will be resolved.
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Professor Adam Finn, from the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the batches are “exactly the same stuff”.
Prof Finn told the BBC: “This is an administrative hurdle that needs to be straightened out but people should not be concerned that they are in some way less well protected.
“We’re in the early days of this new world of needed vaccine passports and there are lots of aspects of this that are still being sorted out for the first time.
“But it’s clearly, ultimately, not in anyone’s interest, including the European Union, to create hurdles that don’t need to be there.”