Juba, South Sudan,
June 30, 2021 – People who received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine jabs will not be eligible to travel to the European Union (EU) as the region says the vaccine has not been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use.
This comes as the EU is set to launch a continent-wide digital green certificate, a travel document considered a passport, and evidence of vaccination against SARS-Cov-2 on Thursday 1 July 2021.
Asked whether it matters what vaccine a person received to be eligible for the travel pass, the EU equivocally answered on its official website saying the vaccination certificates would be issued to a vaccinated person for any vaccine but free movements were restricted to those who received jabs for vaccines authorized by the EU.
“When it comes to waiving free movement restrictions, Member States will have to accept vaccination certificates for vaccines which received EU marketing authorization. Member States may decide to extend this also to EU travelers that received another vaccine,” it says.
India, the manufacturer of Covishield, a locally-made version of AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria jab, which has been authorized in the EU, raised an alarm that nationals were finding difficulty entering the EU over unverified covid-19 vaccination status.
On Monday, Adar Poonawalla, the Chief Executive Officer of Serum, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer that also produces the AstraZeneca vaccine, said he was taking the matter up and makes sure it is resolved.
“I realize that a lot of Indians who have taken COVISHIELD are facing issues with travel to the E.U., I assure everyone, I have taken this up at the highest levels and hope to resolve this matter soon, both with regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries,” he tweeted.
Blow for South Sudan
The controversy over the approval status of the AstraZeneca vaccine would be a blow for South Sudan where, like most African countries, only the Oxford-funded doses of AstraZeneca have been delivered.
The country has been struggling to inoculate its population and in one instance sent 72,000 doses back to COVAX over the fear of expiration due to the sluggish pace of vaccination.
On 27th June, the government announced in its weekly update on COVID-19 that it was preparing to receive the second consignment of 60,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility.
Authorities are yet to respond to how the compromised approval status of the vaccine could affect the travels of those fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca across the continent.