Countries need to harmonise vaccine certification on priority: Adar Poonawalla

#Adar Poonwalla, #AstraZeneca, #Covid-19, #Covishield, #Serum Institute of India (SII), #United Kingdom, #vaccine, #Vaccine Certificate, tightening quarantine rules

SII chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla

Countries across the world need to harmonise vaccine certification on priority, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla said on September 20, amid the row over the United Kingdom tightening quarantine rules for vaccinated Indians.

“Leaders need to address the issue of harmonising vaccine certification as a priority,” Poonawalla said while speaking to CNBC TV 18.

Poonawalla added that he was “shocked why countries are unable to come together on one regulatory quality standard for vaccine trials and travel passports.”

His remarks came shortly after a number of Indians, including former Union ministers Jairam Ramesh and Shashi Tharoor, condemned the UK for treating vaccinated Indians as “unvaccinated” upon their arrival to the country.

As per the UK government’s order, a person vaccinated in countries like the UAE, India, Turkey, Jordan, Thailand, Russia, or the continents of Africa and South America, will be considered as unvaccinated and will have to undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon their arrival.

The inclusion of India in the list has drawn questions as 88 percent of the country’s residents have been jabbed with Covishield, which is identical to the AstraZeneca vaccine used for the mass inoculation drive in the UK.

On the other hand, countries like Australia, Bahrain, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and South Korea – that have been using the UK-made AstraZeneca vaccine for their inoculation programme – have been excluded from the list.

“Covishield is identical to AstraZeneca vaccine and data has been submitted to UK MHRA and EU regulators… Have had personal consultations with regulators in UK and EU and expect a response shortly,” Poonawalla told CNBC TV 18.

“It is not regulatory filing or quality systems but vaccine certificate systems that western nations are struggling to find a way out,” the top SII functionary said.

Poonawalla, while pointing out that the Government of India has got approval in many European countries, added that “other countries have to also play ball on vaccine acceptance”.

From October onwards, the facilities used to manufacture Covishield would be churning out 160-220 million doses, Poonawalla said, adding that this will be used to clear the export backlog of a billion doses.

Notably, the Indian government has cleared the export and donation of vaccines from October. The same was suspended since mid-March, following a rapid surge of infections in India due to the second wave of the pandemic.

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