New York: Calling for “equal recognition of vaccines”, COVAX, the global alliance for vaccine distribution, on Thursday urged governments around the world to recognize as fully vaccinated all people who have received COVID-19 vaccines that have been deemed safe and effective by the World Health Organization (WHO).
COVAX in a statement said it was built on the principle of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines to protect the health of people all across the globe and that means protecting their lives and livelihoods, including their ability to travel and conduct trade.
“As travel and other possibilities begin to open up in some parts of the world, COVAX urges all regional, national and local government authorities to recognise as fully vaccinated all people who have received Covid-19 vaccines that have been deemed safe and effective by the World Health Organisation and/or the 11 Stringent Regulatory Authorities (SRAs) approved for Covid-19 vaccines, when making decisions on who is able to travel or attend events,” COVAX said.
Furthermore, it stressed that “any measure” that only allows people protected by a subset of WHO-approved vaccines to benefit from the re-opening of travel into and with that region would effectively create a two-tier system, further “exacerbating the inequities we have already seen in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.” “Such moves are already undermining confidence in life-saving vaccines that have already been shown to be safe and effective, affecting uptake of vaccines and potentially putting billions of people at risk,” the statement added.
COVAX commended countries that have already shown commitment to equity as well as safety by accepting travelers protected by all vaccines validated by WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) and/or the 11 Stringent Regulatory Authorities (SRAs) approved for COVID-19 vaccines.
As per WHO, the 11 SRAs are Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Belgium’s Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP), Health Canada, EU’s European Medicines Agency (EMA), France’s L’Agence nationale de securite du medicament et des produits de sante (ASNM), Germany’s Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), The Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA), The Medicines Evaluation Board of Netherlands, Swissmedic, UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).
“We call on other nations and regions to do the same.” Previously, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar, during the G20 summit, had taken up with the EU leaders to accept Covishield and Covaxin.
Later on Thursday, Switzerland, Iceland and 7 EU nations allowed the Serum Institute-manufactured Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine. According to sources, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Estonia and Spain have confirmed accepting Covishield for travel entry. Switzerland has also allowed Covishield for the Schengen state. Estonia has confirmed that it will recognize all the vaccines authorized by the Government of India for the travel of Indians to Estonia, said sources.
Union minister Jaishankar had on Tuesday met Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and discussed vaccine production and access. He also took up ‘Covishield’ authorisation for travel to Europe. Jaishankar, who is in Italy for G20 foreign ministers meeting, said he will be following up on the matter concerning authorisation for made in India COVID-19 vaccine.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)