India, July 1 (IndiaToday) – Amid the ongoing controversy over the European Union’s (EU) move to not include Covishield and Covaxin for its Digital Covid Certificate or ‘Green Pass’, India on Wednesday told EU member states that it would exempt their vaccinated people from mandatory quarantine if they recognise Indian vaccines and vaccination certificates.
At present, people travelling to India from abroad have to mandatorily quarantine themselves.
The EU’s Digital Covid Certificate, which has been created to facilitate free movement of vaccinated people during the pandemic, will come into effect from Thursday.
Sources said in its communication to the EU member states, India has it will institute a reciprocal policy for recognition of the EU Digital Covid Certificate.
Once Covaxin and Covishield are notified to be included for the Digital Covid Certificate and Indian CoWIN vaccination certificates are recognised, Indian health authorities would reciprocally exempt people from the EU member states concerned from mandatory quarantine while travelling in India.
This exemption will however be given only to those persons who carry the EU Digital Covid Certificate.
WHAT IS EU’s COVID CERTIFICATE?
The European Union has developed a framework — EU Digital Covid Certificate –to facilitate free movement of vaccinated people within the EU. Under this framework, persons who have received Covid-19 vaccines that have been authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be exempted from travel restrictions within the EU.
Individual EU member states however have the flexibility to also accept vaccines that have been authorised at the national level or by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It is in this context that India has requested EU member states to individually consider extending similar exemption to those persons who have taken Covid-19 vaccines in India (i.e. Covishield and Covaxin), and accept the vaccination certificate issued through the CoWIN portal. (Covishield has been authorised by the WHO while Covaxin has secured regulatory approvals in India and some other countries.)
India told the EU member states that genuineness of the vaccination certification can be authenticated on the CoWIN portal.
EU CLARIFIES ON APPLICABLE NORMS
Speaking to India Today TV, an EU official said it should be clarified that the EU Digital Covid Certificates “are not a pre-requisite” for travel into the EU.
“The certificate is a practical tool that can facilitate travel in those cases where restrictions are lifted,” the official said.
Besides this, while travellers wishing to undertake non-essential travel to the EU should be in possession of a valid proof of a Covid-19 vaccination, the EU Covid Digital Certificate is “not the only tool that can be used”.
“Member States are free to accept the documentation issued in third countries for vaccination. These should contain information that at least allows to identify the person, the type of vaccine and the date of the administration of the vaccine,” the official said.
On the issue of Covishield not being included in the EU Digital Covid Certificate framework, the official said, “At present, Covishield is not authorised for placing on the market in the EU.
However, it has completed the WHO Emergency Use Listing process. On the basis of the relevant Council Recommendation on the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU, Member States may allow travellers (without an essential reason) fully vaccinated with this vaccine to enter the EU.”