European Union's vaccine certificate plan a new hurdle for India

european union, vaccine certificate, india, eu, mohfw

India may face a new challenge following the European Union‘s (EU) proposal to recognise vaccine certificates for nine months after an individual’s vaccination series and its suggestion of booster doses within the nine-month period for safe travel.

The government, after tough negotiations with various partners around the globe, had secured mutual recognition for vaccines certificates.

The Ministry of External Affairs and diplomatic missions globally are holding negotiations with their interlocutors to secure mutual recognition of vaccine certificates and WHO’s decision on Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has boosted their efforts. Twenty-two countries have mutual recognition of Covid-19 vaccination certificates with India as of last Thursday.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said 96 countries have agreed to the mutual acceptance of vaccination certificates of India’s Covid-19 vaccines and the inoculation process.

However, the EU’s proposal – announced on Thursday – could present a new set of challenges.

The European Commission has proposed to update the rules on coordination of safe and free movement within the EU. These rules were put in place in response to the pandemic and include non-essential travel from outside the EU.

The EU has pointed out that priority will be given to vaccinated travellers. “Member States should reopen systematically to those vaccinated with vaccines having completed the WHO emergency use listing process, in addition to reopening to those vaccinated with EU-approved vaccines as is the case today,” according to a EU statement. “As an essential safeguard, proof of a negative PCR test will always be required for all travellers who have been vaccinated with a WHO approved vaccine which is not approved by the European Medicines Agency, and for recovered travellers,” it added.The updates also introduce a time limit of nine months for the acceptance of vaccination certificates after the primary vaccination series.

This takes into account the guidance of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) regarding the administration of booster doses as of six months after completion of the primary vaccination series and provides for an additional period of three months to ensure that national vaccination campaigns can adjust, and for people to have access to the administration of booster shots.The updates also include acceptance of vaccination certificates issued after an additional (“booster”) dose.

In addition, considering the increasing vaccination uptake worldwide, the Commission proposes to discontinue the list of countries from where all travellers are allowed regardless of vaccination status, as of March 1 next year. This proposal will now be considered by the European Council.

“Since the summer, vaccine uptake has increased significantly and the EU Digital COVID Certificate has been rolled out successfully, with more than 650 million certificates issued to date. At the same time, the epidemiological situation in the EU continues to develop with some Member States taking additional public health measures, including administering booster vaccines,” according to the statement.

EU member states should continue welcoming travellers vaccinated with EU-approved vaccines, it emphasised.

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