Immunised but banned: EU says not all COVID-19 vaccines equal

Immunised but banned: EU says not all COVID-19 vaccines equal

London: After Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor and his wife received two doses of AstraZeneca's Coronavirus vaccine in Nigeria, they assumed they would be free to travel this summer to a European destination of their choice. They were wrong.

The couple and millions of other people who have been vaccinated through a UN-backed effort could find themselves barred from entering many European and other countries because those nations don't recognise the Indian-made version of the vaccine for travel.

Although AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Europe has been authorised by the continent's drug regulatory agency, the same shot manufactured in India hasn't been given the green light.

EU regulators said AstraZeneca hasn't completed the necessary paperwork on the Indian factory, including details on its production practices and quality control standards.

But some experts describe the EU move as discriminatory and unscientific, pointing out that the World Health Organization has inspected and approved the factory.

Health officials say the situation won't only complicate travel and frustrate fragile economies but also undermine vaccine confidence by appearing to label some shots substandard.

As vaccination coverage rises across Europe and other rich countries, authorities anxious to salvage the summer tourism season are increasingly relaxing Coronavirus border restrictions.

Earlier this month, the European Union introduced its digital COVID-19 certificate, which allows EU residents to move freely in the 27-nation bloc as long as they have been vaccinated with one of the four shots authorized by the European Medicines Agency, have a fresh negative test, or have proof they recently recovered from the virus.

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