The African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) have addressed concerns regarding the applicability of the EU Digital COVID Certificate. The certificate, commonly referred to as the Green Pass is being offered to different COVID-19 vaccines.
While the goal is for EU Member States to issue vaccination certificates regardless of the COVID-19 vaccine type used, the Green Pass applies only to vaccines with authorization from the EU-wide. Thus, while the AstraZeneca vaccine produced and authorized in Europe (Vaxzervria) is included, the same formation of the vaccine (Covishield) produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), is excluded.
The current applicability guidelines for the Green Pass put at risk the equitable treatment of persons having received their vaccines in countries profiting from the EU-supported COVAX Facility. This includes the majority of the African Union (AU) Member States.
Under such regulations, persons who received Covishield, despite being able to demonstrate proof of vaccination, would continue to be subject to public health restrictions. These restrictions include limitations of movement and testing requirements, with considerable administrative and financial implications.
The goal of the Serum Institute of India production is to serve India and lower-income countries. However, the SII may not apply for EU-wide market authorization. This means that the inequalities in access to Green Passes created by this approach continue to affect citizens in affected countries.
The Covidshield vaccine, and the versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio in Korea, were the first available candidates considered safe by WHO.
The African Union and Africa CDC are therefore urging the EU Commission to consider increasing mandatory access to those vaccines suitable for global rollout through the EU-supported COVAX Facility.