Wednesday, July 28, 2021

EU says no problem with WHO-approved vaccines

EU ambassador to Malaysia says recent reports on the origin of AstraZeneca vaccines are inaccurate.

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The European Union (EU) ambassador to Malaysia Michalis Rokas has clarified that EU member states can allow entry for people given vaccines that have not yet been authorised in the EU but have completed the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing process.

As such, he said, there was no obstacle or hurdle in this matter.

“Therefore, some recent reporting concerning the AstraZeneca vaccines’ origin is inaccurate,” he said in a statement.

National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin had said that the EU should not discriminate over where AstraZeneca vaccine are produced as the same formula is used at all of its manufacturing facilities.

In the wake of reports that the EU would only recognise the AstraZeneca vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency, Khairy said he would get AstraZeneca to inform the EU that all their manufacturing sites implement good manufacturing practices.

Rokas said the EU’s 27 member states had agreed on common guidelines for non-essential travel from outside the bloc, adding however that national restrictions might be introduced based on the epidemiological situation.

“Entry into the EU is in principle allowed to fully vaccinated persons with one of the vaccines authorised in the EU, including those produced in facilities not covered by marketing authorisation in the EU,” he said.

He said the establishment of the EU Digital Covid Certificate was to facilitate travel within the EU, and that it was digital proof that a European citizen or resident had been vaccinated against Covid-19, or had received a negative test or recovered from Covid-19.

“The certificate is not a pre-requisite for travelling in the EU or a compulsory document, but simply a practical tool,” he added.

He also said that the EU Digital Covid Certificate was not the only tool that could be used.

“Member states are free to accept the documentation issued in third countries for vaccination.

“These should contain information that at least allows identifying the person, the type of vaccine and the date of the administration of the vaccine,” he said.

He added that official certificates certifying recovery from Covid-19 or a negative Covid-19 test might also serve as proof of low epidemiological risk, depending on the legislation in force of the member state Malaysians wish to visit.

“In addition, it is up to EU member states to decide which obligations, such as quarantine, may be imposed on incoming travellers,” he said.

Rokas said since there was no common list of requirements, Malaysians who wished to travel to the EU need to check the entry requirements for the member state(s) they wish to visit.

“They need to be aware also that these are likely to change over time depending on the development of the pandemic in both the EU and Malaysia.”

Nevertheless, he said the launch of the EU Digital Covid Certificate now made possible the formal equivalence of Covid-19 certificates between Malaysia and the EU.

“This possibility will be explored with the competent Malaysian authorities in the days to come,” he added.

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