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16 European countries now open doors to those fully vaccinated with Covishield

European countries are steadily opening doors to those vaccinated with Covishield (Photo: IANS)

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla on Saturday said that 16 European countries now recognised and accepted India-made Covishield for entry of international travellers. France is the latest country to open its doors to travellers fully vaccinated with Covishield who will not be required to show a negative Covid test report on arrival.

"It is indeed good news for travellers, as we see 16 European countries recognising Covishield as an acceptable vaccine for entry. However, despite being vaccinated, entry guidelines might vary from country to country, so do read up before you travel," Poonawalla said in a tweet.

The European countries which have accepted the vaccines are – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and now France as well.

France on Saturday lifted travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers.

"Fully vaccinated travellers are no longer subject to restrictions to travel to or from France, whatever the country of departure. We nonetheless strongly advise against travel from France to countries on
the "red" list," according to France's Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs travel advisory.

France will consider people fully vaccinated one week after they received their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca shots, instead of 14 days previously, and 28 days after
their Johnson & Johnson jab. The country will also accept vaccination by Covishield, a copy of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India, for its health pass, Prime Minister Jean Castex said in a statement on Saturday.

The country would require people not fully vaccinated and arriving from some European countries to show a negative Covid test taken within the previous 24 hours. Arrivals from the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and the Netherlands will be subject to the new rule, which comes into effect at midnight Saturday into Sunday, Castex said.

The statement said the exemption was in place because "vaccines are effective against the virus, and in particular its variant Delta".

Earlier the EU nations were accepting only vaccines approved by The European Medicines Agency (EMA) to issue the green pass for travellers which exempts those inoculated from undergoing quarantine on arrival. The EMA  has approved only four vaccines so far – Pfizer-BioNTech's
Comirnaty, US pharma giant Moderna's Covid vaccine, AstraZeneca shot manufactured and sold in Europe as Vaxzervria, and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen.

Only those who've been given these shots are granted vaccination passports, and allowed to travel hassle-free amid the pandemic.

Covishield, manufactured in India by the world's largest manufacturer Serum Institute of India – in partnership with the Oxford University and AstraZeneca – is not on the EMA  list. Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is also not on the list.

As the controversy had flared up, India had also decided to begin a reciprocal policy when it comes to exemption from quarantine. This would mean that unless the European Union accepts Covishield and Covaxin certificates, their certificates will not be accepted in the country and people from the EU will face mandatory quarantine upon arrival in India.

Also read: Jaishankar takes up Covishield recognition issue with EU at meeting in Italy