Millions of Brits Excluded from New E.U. Vaccine Passport Scheme

The European Union’s new vaccine passport scheme – the “E.U. digital Covid Certificate” – has been launched following recent trials, and it’s not just the unvaccinated who don’t qualify. Up to five million vaccinated Brits, and many others across the world, could be denied European holidays because their vaccines are not recognised by the scheme. The Telegraph has the story.

Millions of vaccines administered here do not qualify for the European Union’s vaccine passport scheme, because the shots were manufactured in India and are not yet authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The hitch could leave thousands of Britons turned away at E.U. border crossings when the batch numbers on their vaccines are checked digitally.

The E.U. Digital Covid Certificate… is designed to allow Covid-secure travel across the continent but does not recognise a version of the AstraZeneca vaccine called Covishield, produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), because it is yet to receive approval in Europe.

Up to five million doses of this version of the vaccine have been administered in the U.K. and are identifiable by the vaccine batch numbers (4120Z001, 4120Z002, 4120Z003) included on recipients’ vaccine cards and in the Covid travel pass available via the NHS app.

The E.U. ruling has already sparked outrage in Asia and Africa, where the Indian manufactured shot – which forms the backbone of the Covax distribution scheme – has been widely used. Now, some British holidaymakers may find themselves similarly excluded.

The Telegraph has traced three Britons affected, none of whom were told in advance they were to receive the Indian version of the AstraZeneca vaccine. All received their shots of the SII vaccine in March. …

The E.U. Digital Covid Certificate allows those who are fully vaccinated, recently tested or recovered from Covid to move across borders within the E.U. without having to quarantine or undergo extra coronavirus tests upon arrival.

But only vaccines approved by the EMA are included, though individual member states are free to accept other vaccines if they choose.

The EMA approved vaccines are Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and the version of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in the U.K. or Europe, which is sold under the brand name Vaxzevria. …

The E.U. vaccine passport will soon integrate with the Covid travel pass on the NHS app. By scanning a QR code, the E.U. system pulls up information including the traveller’s name, date of birth and vaccine details, including batch numbers.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Professor Adam Finn from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation says this is merely an “administrative hurdle” that needs to be “straightened out”. He was quoted by Sky News in its coverage of the story:

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.

But it’s clearly, ultimately not in anyone’s interest, including the E.U., to create hurdles that don’t need to be there. …

I would anticipate that this will get straightened out in due course.

Worth reading in full.

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