Up to 5-million British holidaymakers could potentially be banned from Europe because they were given Indian-made versions of the AstraZeneca Covid jab.
The European Medicines Agency does not recognise a version of the vaccine produced by Covishield at the Serum Institute of India, even though it is no less effective than jabs made elsewhere. That means holidaymakers given this vaccine could be refused entry at EU border crossings when batch numbers are checked on digital Covid passports.
The EU Digital Covid Certificate allows those who are fully vaccinated to move through Europe without having to quarantine or undergo further testing, but it only recognises vaccines currently approved by the EMA which includes Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made in Europe.
Britons will be able to determine whether they had the SII jab by looking at their batch number on their vaccination record cards. Those given the Covishield jab will have the numbers 4120Z001, 4120Z002 or 4120Z003.
The EMA has not approved the jab only because its Indian manufacturers have not yet been granted a licence for the vaccine in Europe. Despite the EMA rules, nine European countries have confirmed they will accept travellers inoculated with Covishield.
However, the issue of British exclusion from much of Europe is still largely theoretical because there are still so few EU destinations on the government’s ‘green’ travel list.