Covid: Britons reassured over India-made Covishield jabs and EU travel

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Britons who received an Indian-made Covid jab should not be concerned about travel restrictions in the European Union, a vaccine expert has said.

It comes after reports the bloc's passport scheme does not recognise doses of the AstraZeneca jab known as Covishield.

But vaccine expert Prof Adam Finn said it was an "administrative hurdle".

He added the doses were exactly the same as other AstraZeneca jabs and that the issue should be "straightened out".

The Daily Telegraph has reported that millions of people who have received doses from batches manufactured in India could face being blocked from taking European holidays due to the Covishield vaccine not being authorised by Europe's regulator, and therefore not recognised by the EU.

The Serum Institute of India is reportedly seeking emergency authorisation from Europe for the Covishield jab.

Several European countries have already approved the Covishield jab for travel. These include Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Iceland and Switzerland.

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Currently the EU is rolling out a Digital Covid Certificate so travellers can prove their vaccination status in order to be exempt from quarantining when crossing an international border.

Prof Finn, a member of the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told BBC Radio 4's Today programme people should not be worried that they were any less protected by the Covishield jab.

"We're in the early days of this new world of needed vaccine passports and there are lots of aspects of this that are still being sorted out for the first time," he said.

"But it's clearly, ultimately not in anyone's interest, including the European Union, to create hurdles that don't need to be there."

The EU does not currently accept the UK's NHS app for Covid certification but a UK government spokesman said it will be "a key service" as international travel is reopened.

The NHS app is already being accepted by individual countries including Spain and Greece.

The spokesman added that "all AstraZeneca vaccines given in the UK are the same product and appear on the NHS Covid Pass as Vaxzevria".

This could mean that EU officials would have to check batch numbers to see if they were Covishield or not.

According to an amendment to the agreement between the UK government and AstraZeneca batch numbers 4120Z001, 4120Z002 and 4120Z003 were produced by the Serum Institute.

A European Commission spokesman said that "entry into the EU should be allowed to people fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines authorised in the EU".

But he added that individual member states could also allow entry for people vaccinated with jabs on the World Health Organization's emergency list – which is the case for Covishield.

Downing Street said the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has shared its assessment of the vaccines with its European counterpart – the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – to assist the approvals process.

A No 10 spokesman said: "They're the same product which has been authorised and checked for safety and quality by our MHRA.

"They've shared their inspection report with the EMA."

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