The African Centers for Disease and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the African Union (AU) have expressed concern after it was revealed that the EU’s digital COVID passport does not recognize vaccine doses donated to several African countries through the COVAX initiative.
The EU COVID label only recognizes AstraZeneca doses, which also have the Vaxzevria label produced by European Medicines Agency (EMA) manufacturers in Europe, China, South Korea and the United States among the donated doses in Africa, TheSchengen.com reports.
In contrast, the vaccine doses provided by the largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, also known as CoviShield, which has been designated as the backbone of the COVAX Initiative contribution to low- and middle-income countries, will not be recognized.
However, Estonia, Spain, Iceland, Slovenia and Greece are the EU countries that have confirmed that they recognize certificates for the KofiSchild vaccine despite the Commission’s decision not to. Several other countries, such as Austria, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland, are also reported to accept this vaccine, but no official announcement has been made by the authorities of these countries.
“In the European Union, a vaccine called Covishield does not currently have a marketing authorization. Although it may use a production technology similar to Vaxzevria, Covishield as such is not currently approved under EU rules. This is because vaccines are biological products,” the EMA stated .
On the matter, the EMA stated that the agency will not be responsible for any of the decisions regarding the COVID-19 vaccination status and travel restrictions for those who wish to travel to the European Union.
In addition, the agency noted that because even the smallest differences in manufacturing conditions can make differences in the final product, EU law requires evaluation and approval of the manufacturing and production process before any decision is made.
The European Union has reiterated that a COVID passport is not a prerequisite for travel to the bloc and that member states can allow entry to people who have been vaccinated with vaccines that have completed the WHO emergency use list process.
Because two doses of the Indian-produced AstraZeneca vaccine do not allow travelers to enter the European Union, a significant number of the world’s population is excluded from the group’s current travel policy.
As such, the Africa CDC and the African Union have encouraged the EU Commission to attempt to increase mandatory access to the COVID Card for appropriate vaccines from global deployment using the EU-supported COVAX facility.
“Current implementation guidelines jeopardize the fair treatment of people who have received their vaccines in countries that benefit from the EU-supported COVAX facility, including the majority of African Union member states,” the CDC reads.
Earlier, TheSchengen.com reported that the EU digital COVID passport went into effect today, July 1, amid a delta variant.