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Monday, March 4, 2024

EU politics over Bharatiya vaccines and how Bharat handled it

Bharat has threatened to not allow free movement of vaccinated European travellers if European Union’s member countries fail to recognise vaccines made in Bharat. The move comes after the EU excluded Covishield and Covaxin from its list of vaccines that will make one eligible for the digital vaccination certificate.

The EU is introducing a digital vaccination certificate called Green Pass to facilitate seamless movement of vaccinated people. This came into effect from July 1. In a move to encourage free movement, the EU has developed a framework to issue vaccination certificates for those who have been vaccinated. Under this framework only those who have taken shots of the vaccines authorised by European Medicine Agency(EMA) will be exempted from restrictions to travel within the EU.

The EMA has not included Bharatiya made vaccines Covishield and Covaxin in the list of vaccines approved. However individual EU member states are given the flexibility of accepting vaccines that are authorised at national level or by WHO. In this regard the Bharatiya government has reached out to the individual member states to allow people vaccinated with Covishield and Covaxin. It has negotiated with the EU countries to exempt vaccinated travellers from mandatory quarantine if they accept the digital vaccination certificate issued through the CoWIN portal.

India Today reported that following this, an EU official said that “the EU Covid digital certificate is not the only tool” that can be used for free movement across the EU. The official has clarified that the member states can allow those with vaccination certificates by third countries. He further said that Covishield has not been included in the EMA authorised list as it’s not been approved for marketing. However, as it has completed the WHO Emergency Use Listing process, the EU has given liberty to the member countries to allow people who have been fully vaccinated with Covishield. 

Covishield, despite being innovated by Oxford, not being authorised to be sold in the EU market seems to have to do with the commercial implications. To be precise only AstraZeneca manufactured in the European countries has been included in the list. This issue affects the commercial interests of Bharat as many countries have agreed to purchase Bharatiya made vaccines. For example Canada has vaccinated 2,70,000 of its people with Covishield. Many African countries that received Covishield and Covaxin as a part of COVAX initiative also will have their citizens banned from the EU if and when international travel using Green Pass comes into effect. This effectively discourages countries from purchasing Bharatiya made vaccines.

One cannot forget the politics in EU countries either, considering what German chancellor Angela Merkel said about Bharat. In an European Commission meeting she said, “The truth is, we haven’t treated our pharmaceutical industry so well for many years…I am glad that we still have pharmaceutical production in Belgium, Holland, Germany”. She expressed her ‘worry’ that Bharat has become a hub of pharmaceutical industries and arrogantly said “Of course, we have only allowed India to become such a large pharmaceutical producer in the first place”. Perhaps the EMA not including Bharatiya vaccines has to do with this worry.

Even though it appears to be an economical issue for now, one cannot brush away the non-stop demonisation of Bharat made vaccines by Congress, leftists and other anti-Bharat elements. So-called public intellectuals like Prashant Bhushan spread canards about the efficacy of the vaccines and fed fodder to the international media. Then there were politicians like Kejriwal pushing for allowing and purchasing Pfizer vaccine which has adverse effects and seeks protection from being sued if the effects show. 

Congress which mercilessly butchered a cow in broad daylight in Kerala was suddenly worried about how Covaxin was produced. The party’s social media workers planted stories that cows were tortured in the process of obtaining bovine serum which is used in the process of developing the vaccine. It tried to play with Hindus’ religious sentiments to turn them against the vaccine.

Recently the Oxford scientists who developed the AstraZeneca vaccine were facilitated in the Wimbledon court. Liberals pointed it out to say how “science should be celebrated” forgetting the fact that it was them who hounded even the manufacturers of Covishield and Covaxin and created suspicions about the efficacy of an indigenous vaccine. Being the indigenous vaccine, efficacy of Covaxin is continuously being undermined by vested interests and sold out media.

But braving all these odds, our vaccine manufacturing industry is touching milestones and the government’s latest move to get them approved by the EU further boosts them. On one hand the American government tried to crush the Bharatiya vaccine production by stopping raw materials. On the other the EU plays politics in authorising Bharatiya vaccines. But the Bharatiya government’s level headed approach in the issues seem to be paying off as 9 European countries have come forward to allow Covishield vaccine certificate. Bharat should show its strength and take Covaxin to the global stage as well by getting approval for it from the EU.

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