“Vaccine Passport”: No consensus yet at WHO level

#Bharat Biotech applies for WHO emergency use listing for Covaxin

RSN: Rejecting the claims and media reports that “Vaccine Passport”— that the type of vaccine administered— will regulate international travel, the Government of India clarified that no such decision had been taken by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Ministry of Health also said that different countries could approve vaccines according to their standards and availability. “The WHO is yet to reach a consensus on the vaccine passport issue for allowing international travel to those fully vaccinated against the coronavirus infection,” said Lav Agarwal Health Ministry Joint Secretary in a media briefing.

“So far there’s no consensus at the level of WHO over this; discussion on this matter is still underway. As of now, as per the guidelines of WHO and countries, people with negative COVID test report is being allowed,” he added.

The Ministry of Health also rejected such similar reports on different social media and said its “mistakable and speculative.”

Notably, Covaxin is widely administered across India, and the major countries to whom Indians frequently travel have not yet been approved. According to the data submitted, fewer than 10 countries have approved Covaxin officially, while most recognise Covishield only as a necessary vaccine for passengers from India.

Indians who have taken Covaxin jab may not be dismissed elsewhere, but Indian travellers are perceived to prefer Covishield merely because it is listed in officially approved vaccines in major nations.

Though, Covishield has not yet been approved in the USA but is in clinical trials. There are no trials outside of India for Covaxin.

But those in India like Covishield and Covaxin equally. This does not, of course, mean that countries like the United States and the United Kingdom will not in the future approve Covaxin. This process only took longer than expected for whatever reasons.

Incoming passengers are now being examined for evidence of Covid-19 vaccinations in many countries. If they do not have the evidence, they will have to undergo compulsory hotel quarantines directly from the airport for at least two weeks.

Meanwhile, Bharat Biotech has submitted an application to the WHO for Emergency Use Listing (EUL) of Covaxin. The company has submitted 90 percent of the documents required for Emergency Use Listing by WHO. The remaining documents are expected to be submitted next month. The company is waiting for a pre-submission meeting to be held in May-June.

Following the pre-submission meeting, it will be required to go through 2 more stages, the acceptance of the dossier for review and the final status of assessment before its application is accepted.

On February 15, WHO gave emergency use approval to the Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India. So far, seven vaccines globally have been given approval by WHO for EUL. Russia’s Sputnik vaccine has also applied for emergency approval.

The WHO gave approval for emergency use of Covishield Vaccine from the Serum Institute of India on 15 February. Till now WHO has approved seven vaccines for EUL worldwide. The emergency authorization has also been requested by Russia’s Sputnik vaccine.

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