January 31, 2023

Over 270K Canadians got the Covishield vaccine. They may not be eligible for EU travel – National

Europe is starting to roll out its Digital COVID Certificate, a proof of COVID-19 vaccination program that could one day allow double-dosed Canadians to sip wine at a French vineyard without having to adhere to the piles of pandemic-related rules that exist now.

There’s just one problem: not all Canadian-approved COVID-19 vaccines are currently recognized by the program.

Read more:
Feds say Canada ‘needs to be part’ of vaccine passport talks as other countries race ahead

Canada has approved all the same vaccines as the European Union: Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), the latter of which hasn’t been distributed to date.

However, while Canada has doled out both the European-made version of the AstraZeneca jab and its Indian-made counterpart – known as Covishield – Brussels has only approved the European-made version.

Story continues below advertisement


Click to play video: 'Will you need a vaccine passport the next time you fly? Travel expert explains new restrictions'







Will you need a vaccine passport the next time you fly? Travel expert explains new restrictions


Will you need a vaccine passport the next time you fly? Travel expert explains new restrictions – Jun 10, 2021

That means Canadians who received at least one dose of the Covishield vaccine might find themselves running into a roadblock as they try to book a trip to the E.U., should Europe’s internal passport program be extended to international travellers.

“My understanding is that the two AstraZeneca manufactured vaccines, European Union and India, are biologically identical,” said Kerry Bowman, a professor of bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto.

“So what we’ve got is a bureaucratic situation here that could well indeed stand in the way of people’s freedom of travel.”

In Canada, 1.6 million people have received a jab of the European-made version of AstraZeneca, according to the government’s figures. But another 272,000 people have been given at least one dose of the Covishield vaccine – leaving the future of their potential EU travel plans in limbo.

Story continues below advertisement

“This is one of the great problems with vaccine passports, is that we don’t have a great global infrastructure on how these things are going to be managed — and so decisions are being made in different places,” Bowman said.

Read more:
Expert urges Canada to ‘follow the science’ on COVID-19 vaccine passports

Part of the problem comes from AstraZeneca itself, according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The company hasn’t actually applied to have the European regulator approve its Covishield shot.

“Should we receive a marketing authorization application for Covishield or should any change to the approved manufacturing sites for (AstraZeneca’s vaccine) be approved, we would communicate about it,” said a spokesperson for the EMA in an email sent to Global News.


Click to play video: 'Europe to reopen borders to fully vaccinated tourists'







Europe to reopen borders to fully vaccinated tourists


Europe to reopen borders to fully vaccinated tourists – May 19, 2021

Given that the EU has already approved the European-made jab, it’s unlikely they’d reject the version made in India, according to experts. That’s because there are no significant differences between the European-made and Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccines.

Story continues below advertisement

“You do have to go through this very rigorous quality control process where you are assured that the same process was used and that the vaccine that you have at the end of your process is as good as the one that’s coming from another plant,” said Dr. Joanne Langley, a vaccine researcher with the Canadian Center for Vaccinology.

“If you are assured that all the quality control processes are in place and you’re using the same methods, the same source materials, you would think that it should be as effective from one plant to another.”

And while the current Digital COVID Certificate in the EU only applies to internal travel, the door remains open for member states to exercise a degree of autonomy when it comes to who they allow within their borders.

Read more:
UN agency details new ‘digital seal’ as countries mull COVID-19 vaccine passports

EU states “could accept vaccination certificates from non-EU countries,” according to an EU spokesperson, provided the certificates contain the minimum required data and can be properly verified.

But until this Covishield oversight is remedied, it’s not only Canadians who could find themselves stumbling over this bureaucratic hurdle to European travel.

Millions of people around the world have been given the Covishield vaccine, particularly in India, where the homegrown jab has played a huge role in the country’s vaccination efforts so far.

Story continues below advertisement

The head of India’s Serum Institute fired out a tweet pledging to tackle the issue on Monday.

“I realise that a lot of Indians who have taken COVISHIELD are facing issues with travel to the E.U.,” wrote Adar Poonawalla.

“I assure everyone, I have taken this up at the highest levels and hope to resolve this matter soon, both with regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries.”


Click to play video: 'Vaccination cards and conversations about ethics'







Vaccination cards and conversations about ethics


Vaccination cards and conversations about ethics – Jun 9, 2021

The current exclusion of Covishield also has a disproportionate impact on countries with fewer resources at their disposal, as the vaccine-sharing program COVAX has distributed millions of AstraZeneca doses — many of which were the Covishield brand.

“This protectionism, I think it’s only hurtful in the long run,” said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease and global health specialist at the University of Toronto.

Story continues below advertisement

“It targets those countries that may be resource-poor through the COVAX program.”

She said that if countries like the United States limit their border reopenings to only those vaccinated with their approved vaccines — which are the Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen jabs — this “excludes much of the rest of the world.”

“That doesn’t make a lot of sense if they’re trying to open up the borders,” Banerji said.

Read more:
From vaccine passports to prices: Experts answer questions on the summer travel season

As early cracks begin to emerge in proof-of-vaccination strategies, the Canadian government says there’s a concerted global effort underway to ensure proof-of-vaccination rules make sense in an international context.

So far, Canada has stopped short of issuing an official plan for vaccine passports — but on June 18, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is “working with the provinces to establish a national certification of vaccination status that will be easily accepted around the world for people who need to travel internationally.”

He said these certifications are likely going to be available “for the fall.”

These discussions aren’t just underway with provinces. They’re taking place on the international stage, too, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Story continues below advertisement

“Proof of vaccination credentials are one potential tool that could be used to support the reopening of societies and economies,” said Tammy Jarbeau, a spokesperson for PHAC.

“Canada is participating in the international dialogue on this issue, specifically at the World Health Organization and through the G7.”


Click to play video: 'Poll shows majority in B.C. open to the idea of COVID-19 vaccine passports'







Poll shows majority in B.C. open to the idea of COVID-19 vaccine passports


Poll shows majority in B.C. open to the idea of COVID-19 vaccine passports – May 7, 2021

The patchwork of vaccine approvals around the world has made those discussions even more important, according to Canada’s top doctor.

“Every country has authorized different vaccines,” said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, speaking on June 17.

“They’re all making different policy decisions at the moment. So, I think the important thing is to engage in international discussions.”

As things stand now, Tam said Canada is “in the early days of resuming travel (while) taking into account someone’s vaccination status.”

Story continues below advertisement

“I think every one of us will do our best in looking at what can be achieved in the international discussions,” she said.




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Related Posts

Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine targets could change in wake of Delta variant, Tam says – National

June 15, 2021

June 15, 2021

Canada is on the cusp of hitting its first national vaccination target, but chief public health officer Dr. Theresa...

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna will not seek re-election – National

June 27, 2021

June 27, 2021

Canada’s minister of infrastructure, Catherine McKenna, will not be seeking re-election, Global News learned Sunday. The decision comes amid...

Rudy Giuliani’s law licence suspended for pushing Trump election falsehoods – National

June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

A New York court has suspended Rudy Giuliani‘s licence to practise law in the state, citing the “demonstrably false...

U.S. state attorneys general investigating whether Instagram is harmful to kids – National

November 19, 2021

November 19, 2021

A bipartisan coalition of U.S. state attorneys general said on Thursday it has opened a probe into Facebook, now...

PHAC head doubles down, withholds docs on fired scientists as House reprimand looms – National

June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

The head of the Public Health Agency of Canada is showing no sign he’s willing to release unredacted documents...

Reports that U.S. border to Canada could reopen on June 22 untrue: sources

May 26, 2021

May 26, 2021

U.S. government sources tell Global News that reports they will unilaterally reopen the border with Canada on June 22...

Minneapolis voters reject replacing police force 18 months after George Floyd murder – National

November 3, 2021

November 3, 2021

Minneapolis voters decided on Tuesday not to replace their police force with a new department that would have taken...

Conservative MP Richard Lehoux tests positive for COVID-19 – National

November 20, 2021

November 20, 2021

Conservative MP Richard Lehoux has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement issued Saturday. “Today, out of an...

Face masks mostly out, hugs in at White House as U.S. COVID-19 vaccinations continue – National

May 22, 2021

May 22, 2021

A smiling crowd of unmasked people filling the largest room in the White House. A visiting head of state...

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou loses publication ban bid on evidence at extradition hearing

June 25, 2021

June 25, 2021

By Staff The Canadian Press Posted June 24, 2021 10:03 pm Smaller font Descrease...

‘Half of restaurants still at risk’: Small businesses warn Ottawa despite new hiring subsidy – National

June 30, 2021

June 30, 2021

Ottawa announced the rollout of a new hiring subsidy for businesses on Wednesday after the budget bill received royal...

Canada donated over 4M Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX. Today, 784K landed in Egypt – National

October 31, 2021

October 31, 2021

Hundreds of thousands of Moderna’s COVID-19 doses donated by Canada to a global vaccine-sharing program have safely arrived at...

École élémentaire publique Julie-Payette in Ottawa to be renamed

June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

An elementary school in Kanata named for Julie Payette will be renamed, Ottawa’s French public school board decided at...

Fully vaccinated Canadian travellers can skip hotel quarantine come July: feds – National

June 9, 2021

June 9, 2021

The federal government on Wednesday announced that “fully vaccinated” Canadian travellers will no longer require mandatory COVID-19 hotel quarantine...

Belarus sinks deeper into isolation after journalist’s dramatic arrest – National

May 25, 2021

May 25, 2021

Belarus’ isolation deepened Tuesday as commercial jets avoided its airspace, the European Union worked up new sanctions, and officials...