Delese Mimi Darko, the CEO of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), has expressed reservations about the decision by some European countries to bar travellers who have had the AstraZeneca vaccine.
It follows reports suggesting that certain European countries are planning to reject evidence of individuals having been vaccinated with two shots of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine as adequate proof that they pose no health risk if they travel.
“We did hear about that. I know the African Union issued a strong statement, and I am aware that some of the countries in the European Union have pulled out of that decision [to accept foreign nationals who have had a double dose of Covishield],” she told Asaase News.
“It is an ongoing situation and I am sure it will change,” Darko added.
“We are in a pandemic and vaccine availability is an issue. It is very disturbing that any country decides which vaccine used in a particular country cannot be [accepted]. It is not the right thing at this time,” the FDA boss said.
AU condemns move
The African Union Commission and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) raised concerns last month regarding the exclusion of recipients of the Covishield vaccine from the digital COVID “Green Pass” certificate – the recognition given by the EU to recipients of other COVID-19 vaccines.
The two bodies are worried that non-recognition of Covishield, which is one of the main vaccines being deployed in African countries, through donations under the COVAX scheme, may jeopardise the continent’s ongoing vaccination programme.
The EU’s Digital COVID Certificate allows people who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by its medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), to travel freely within the Union.
The pass, however, recognises only AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Europe (branded Vaxzevria), and not the kind manufactured by the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer – the Serum Institute of India (SII) – which is branded Covishield.