The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we travel. Besides a passport, a person now needs to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus to travel to another country. Well! There is some goods news for people who wish to visit Europe.
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After months of deliberations, seven European Union (EU) countries along with Switzerland have permitted Indians citizens, who have been fully vaccinated with the Covishield vaccine, to visit. These EU countries include Germany, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Austria and Slovenia. These countries have included Pune’s Serum Institute of India manufactured Covishield vaccine in their Green Passport/Pass.
In other words, Indians who have received both doses of the Covishield vaccine will be allowed to travel to these countries without the need for quarantine. Nonetheless, Indians travelling to most European countries will still require a valid international travel insurance policy as it is a mandatory pre-requisite.
However, this decision to include Covishield in the Green Pass came after India warned of reciprocal policy for the recognition of digital COVID certificates issued by EU countries.
In response to the EU countries failing to recognize Covishield and Covaxin vaccines in their Green Pass, the Indian government warned of implementing a reciprocal policy for recognition of the digital COVID certificate issued by the EU countries.
As part of the reciprocal policy, the Indian government will not recognize the digital COVID certificate issued by EU countries to their citizens when they visit India. As a result, the EU citizens will have to undergo mandatory quarantine for a specified period of time after arriving in India.
The reciprocal policy will stay active unless the EU countries include Covishield and Covaxin under their Green Pass and recognize the vaccine certificate issued by India’s CoWIN. Once the Indian authorities have been notified by the EU member state of the inclusion of Covishield and Covaxin in their Green Pass and recognition of CoWIN vaccine certificates, their citizens will be exempted from the reciprocal policy when visiting India.
But wait there’s more.
According to the European Union, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not approved Covishield because the Serum Institute of India has not applied for the required permissions and it will consider its case when they apply. On the other hand, Covaxin has not been approved by the EMA because it has not been recognized by WHO as yet.
Nonetheless, the Indian authorities want EMA to consider the Indian vaccines by accepting the vaccine certificate issued by CoWIN, even if the applications have not been made.
At present, only four vaccines have been approved by the EMA that includes Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson’s & Johnson’s Janssen and AstraZeneca-Oxford’s Vaxzervia.
But since the Green Pass is not mandatory to travel to the EU member countries, these countries can individually accept vaccines approved by the WHO. That’s how the seven EU countries have accepted the Covishield vaccine.
If an Indian citizen is fully vaccinated with Covishield and plans to visit Switzerland or the seven EU countries that recognize the Serum Institute-manufactured vaccine, he/she can buy international travel insurance by following the steps given below:
Summing It Up
The recognition of the Covishield vaccine by Switzerland and the seven EU countries is a positive step towards reopening quarantine-free travel around the world for Indian citizens. Travel enthusiasts can now travel to these countries freely as long as they have received both doses of the Covishield vaccine. Don’t forget to cover the trip with international travel insurance to stay prepared for any unforeseen adversities.