EU Chided For Rejecting Travel Certificates Issued On Covishield

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has chided the European Union (EU) on their position that travel certificates for Covishield COVID-19 vaccine – the AstraZeneca vaccine that is produced in India, will not be recognised by it for travel.

It emphasised that due to the unequal spread in the availability of vaccines, especially between the rich and low income countries, the presentation of proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a prerequisite for travel is untenable.

Stressing that all the vaccines that have been approved for emergency use listings are effective in providing protection against COVID-19, the global health body stated that no country or region should be sanctioned or face travel restriction on the basis of COVID-19 vaccination.

The Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Kazadi Mulombo, made these known in Abuja, during a joint press briefing on COVID-19 vaccination updates of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NHCDA), the WHO and the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

He said: “WHO has updated its recommendation as of July 2nd 2021. We do not recommend making proof of COVID-19 vaccination a necessary provision to enter any country. This is particularly because of the widening and unequal spread in vaccine availability between the wealthy and lower income countries.

“Under the provisions of the International Health Regulations, vaccines will have to be approved by the WHO and be universally available before it can be considered as a prerequisite for travel. No region or country should face sanctions or restrictions because they are unable to get vaccines.”

Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, added: “That was a temporary release because there are different validation processes that are used for different vaccines. Just like NAFDAC has had to list COVID-19 vaccines from India. They have had to list the Covishield, J&J, Pfizer bioNtech. Even if it is the same vaccine, as long as it is produced in a different facility, they have to go through that same process.

“The EU is not banning permanently or failing to recognise AstraZeneca from India. It is just that the Indian authorities have to also go through that process to get approved. It is not anything to be worried about.”

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