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SII chief Poonawalla sets up Rs 10 crore fund to help students meet quarantine costs abroad

SII chief Poonawalla sets up Rs 10 crore fund to help students meet quarantine costs abroad

Serum Institute of India chief Adar Poonawalla has set up a Rs 10 crore fund to help students travelling abroad for studies to meet their quarantine costs, as a few countries are still not allowing those vaccinated with India-made Covishield to enter without going through a mandatory quarantine.

The quarantine involves an expensive 14-day hotel stay in countries such as the UK which Indian students are finding difficult to pay.

"Dear students travelling abroad, as a few countries are yet to approve Covishield as an acceptable vaccine for travel without quarantine, you may have to incur some costs. I have set aside Rs 10 crore for this…," Poonawalla said in a tweet.

He shared a link for students who want to apply for financial support.

Also read:  British PM Boris Johnson strongly backs Covishield for green passport

As many as 16 European countries had in July recognised Covishield as an acceptable vaccine for entry but there are still others who allow only those vaccinated in Europe and the USA entry without undergoing quarantine.

Poonawalla who is keeping a close track of the developments had tweeted at the time that "It is indeed good news for travellers, as we see sixteen 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."

Covishield manufactured at Pune is actually the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and apart from being the mainstay of India’s vaccination campaign has also been used in close to 100 countries. It has been supplied to the WHO-led COVAX programme launched to provide vaccines to developing countries. Covishield is being manufactured under a licence from AstraZeneca.

The Indian authorities have also been taking up the issue of this discrimination with the foreign governments.

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

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 France.

Some countries are accepting only vaccines approved by the USFDA and 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.

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.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had earlier come out strongly in favour of Covishield vaccine being included in the green passport schemes.

"I see no reason at all why the MHRA-approved vaccines should not be recognised as part of the vaccine passports and I'm very confident that that will not prove to be a problem," Johnson said at a joint news conference with Angela Merkel.

About 5 million people in Britain are reported to have been administered the Covishield vaccine made by Serum Institute of India in collaboration with UK pharma giant AstraZeneca.