Within 24 hours of showing its might and issuing a stern warning to the European Union (EU) that New Delhi will put its travelling citizens in mandatory quarantine if they touchdown in India, the EU nations surrendered before the Narendra Modi government. Eight EU states Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland, on late Wednesday night (June 30) included Covishield on their list of approved vaccines required to travel to the continent. Furthermore, Estonia became the first nation in Europe to recognise both Indian vaccines – Covaxin and Covishield.
As reported by TFI, the EU had denied vaccine passports to those inoculated with Covishield – the Indian version of Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India and home-grown Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Miffed by the discriminatory behaviour of the top European body, the government categorically stated that it will not recognise the EU’s digital Covid certificate until it recognises Indian vaccines Covishield and Covaxin in the certificate.
A senior MEA official was quoted as saying, “We have requested the EU Member States to individually consider extending the similar exemption to those persons who have taken Covid-19 vaccines in India, that is, Covishield and Covaxin, and accept the vaccination certificate issued through the CoWIN portal.”
Ostrich Egg on everyone’s face pic.twitter.com/eHp1skpy4C
— Rishi Bagree 🇮🇳 (@rishibagree) July 1, 2021
To revive its dwindling economy, Europe has started allowing people to travel to the continent with vaccine passports. The tourism industry forms the fulcrum of the economy of the region and with the industry entirely shutting its shop last year, the EU couldn’t afford another year without the billion-dollar industry and thus the Green Pass was issued.
In its earlier notification, the EU had allowed those inoculated with Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech), Moderna, Vaxzervria (AstraZeneca-Oxford), Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) – the vaccines used in countries like United States, Canada, and other western countries only.
However, it purposefully left out the Indian vaccines, which gradually snowballed into a controversy. While the xenophobia against the 100 per cent indigenously developed Covaxin persists, as the vaccine is yet to receive approval in the American and European markets because regulators in those countries are protecting domestic players from foreign competition, the government, for the time being, has won a major diplomatic tussle by playing on the front foot.
Dandoplamacy: The art of managing relations with different countries by showing a stick. https://t.co/hxADdBy16S
— Atul Mishra (@TheAtulMishra) July 1, 2021
However, it shouldn’t be long before Covaxin gets approval in all EU nations as well. Reported extensively by TFI, those casting aspersions over the effectiveness of Covaxin were served a timely reminder earlier this week when data from the phase 3 trials of Covaxin showed that symptomatic COVID-19 cases can be brought down by 77.8 per cent due to the vaccine.
India’s highest drug regulatory body, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation’s Subject Expert Committee (SEC) reviewed as well as accepted the late-stage trial data of Covaxin.
Moreover, the USA’s National Institute of Health also stamped its seal of approval on the vaccine stating that people inoculated with Covaxin generated sufficient antibodies that effectively neutralised the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) and B.1.617 (Delta) variants of SARS-CoV-2.
Despite the roaring success of the vaccine, and its relatively cheaper price and easier logistical handling, the Western world is unwilling to allow its entry, solely because the Big Pharma companies and their lobbying groups are keeping the likes of the EU and its health bodies stuffed.