Immunized but banned: EU says not all Covid vaccines equal – News Vibe24

    Immunized but banned: EU says not all Covid vaccines equal - Times of India
    LONDON: After Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor and his wife received two doses of AstraZeneca Korana vaccine in Nigeria, they assumed they would be free to travel to a European destination of their choice this summer. They were wrong.
    The couple and millions of other people who have been vaccinated through a UN-sponsored effort could find themselves barred from entering many European and other countries because these nations do not recognize the Indian version of the travel vaccine.
    Although the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Europe has been approved by the Continental Drug Regulatory Authority, it has not given the green light to the same shot made in India.
    EU regulators say AstraZeneca has not completed the necessary paperwork for the Indian plant, including details on production practices and quality control standards.
    However, some experts describe the EU move as discreet and unscientific, noting that the World Health Organization has inspected and approved the plant. Health officials say the situation will not only complicate travel and frustrate fragile economies but also undermine confidence in vaccines, which seems to indicate some shots.
    As vaccination coverage increases across Europe and other rich countries, authorities seeking to save the summer tourist season are increasingly relaxing corona virus border restrictions.
    Earlier this month, the European Union introduced the Covid-19 digital certificate, which allows EU citizens to roam freely in the 27-nation bloc, provided they have been vaccinated with one of four drugs approved by the European Medicines Agency. fresh negative test or have shown that they have recently recovered from the virus.
    While the US and UK remain largely closed to foreign visitors, the EU certificate is seen as a potential model for Covid-19 travel and as a way to boost economies.
    Official EU-supported vaccines also include those made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. They do not include the AstraZeneca vaccine made in India or many other vaccines used in developing countries, including those made in China and Russia.
    Individual EU countries are free to apply their own rules for travelers inside and outside the bloc, and their rules are very different, creating further confusion for tourists. Several EU countries, including Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, allow people to enter if they have received vaccines that have not been approved by the EU. Many others, such as France and Italy, do not.
    For Nsofor, the awareness that could be banned was “a rude awakening.” After a year of hard work during the Abuja pandemic, Nsofor and his wife were looking forward to vacationing in Europe with their two young daughters, perhaps admiring the Eiffel Tower in Paris or touring Salzburg in Austria.
    Nsofor noted that the Indian vaccine he received had been approved by the WHO for emergency use and had been provided through COVAX, the UN-backed program for delivering shots to poor corners of the world. WHO approval included a visit to the Serum Institute of India factory to ensure that it had good manufacturing practices and that quality control standards were met.
    “We are grateful to the EU for funding COVAX, but now they are effectively discriminating against a vaccine that they have actively funded and promoted,” Nsofor said. “This will simply give way to all sorts of conspiracy theories that the vaccines we get in Africa are not as good as the ones they have for themselves in the West.”
    Ivo Vlaef, a professor at the British University of Warwick who advises the government on behavioral science during COVID-19, agreed that Western countries’ refusal to recognize vaccines used in poor countries could lead to mistrust.
    “People who were already suspicious of the vaccines will become even more suspicious,” said Vlaef. “They could also lose confidence in governments’ public health messages and be less willing to comply with Covid rules.”
    Dr Mesfin Teklu Tessema, health director of the International Rescue Committee, said countries that have refused to recognize vaccines cleared by the WHO are acting against the scientific evidence.
    “Vaccines that have met the WHO threshold must be accepted. “Otherwise, there seems to be an element of racism here,” he said.
    The WHO has called on countries to recognize all vaccines it has approved, including two Chinese. Countries that refuse to do so “undermine confidence in life-saving vaccines that have already been shown to be safe and effective, affecting vaccination and potentially endangering billions of people,” the UN health agency said in a statement this month. .
    In June, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the India Serum Institute, wrote on Twitter that he was concerned about vaccinated Indians traveling to the EU and said he was raising the issue at the highest levels with regulators and countries.
    Stefan De Keersmaeker, a spokesman for the EU executive, said last week that regulators were required to control the production process at the Indian plant.
    “We are not trying to cast doubt on this vaccine,” he said.
    AstraZeneca said it had recently submitted documents on the Indian plant to the EU Drugs Agency. He did not say why he did not do so earlier, before the agency made its initial decision in January.
    Public health experts have warned that countries refusing to recognize WHO-backed vaccines are complicating global efforts to safely restart travel.
    “You can’t just cut countries off from the rest of the world indefinitely,” said Dr Raghib Ali of Cambridge University. “Excluding some people from certain countries because of the vaccine they have received is completely inconsistent, because we know that these approved vaccines are extremely protective.”
    Nsofor said he and his wife are still deciding where to spend their summer holidays and are heading to Singapore or East Africa.
    “I did not realize there were so many layers to the inequality of vaccines,” he said.

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