Millions of international travelers are denied entry in many European countries despite being fully vaccinated.
The nations are particularly rejecting those that have been injected with the AstraZeneca doses that came from India, the vaccines dominantly distributed by COVAX—an UN-backed vaccination effort that aims to help poorer countries with vaccine supply reported ABC News.
Aside from the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson jabs that the EU has approved, it only accepts AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured by the continent itself.
Despite being inspected and approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), the lack of relevant paperwork is blocking its authorization process in the EU. Such documents that AstraZeneca has not fully submitted include details on its production processes and quality control requirements.
Indian AstraZeneca is not the only unaccepted vaccine in the region.
Visitors to several parts of the EU could also find that if they were injected with COVID-19 vaccines made from China, Russia, or other developing countries, they would likely be barred from entering the nations because the continent has not authorized them.
However, not all EU countries adopt the same policies for visitors inside and outside, noted the outlet. Belgium, Germany and Switzerland were among those that still accept people with non-EU-approved vaccines, whereas others such as France and Italy do not.
The EU’s attitude to people’s vaccination profile has been slammed by many experts.
Professor of Behavioural Science at the University of Warwick advised the U.K. government during the COVID-19 pandemic that the different treatment based on vaccine sources compromises trust in the doses.
“People who were already suspicious of vaccines will become even more suspicious,” Vlaev said. “They could also lose trust in public health messages from governments and be less willing to comply with COVID rules.”
To the director of health for the International Rescue Committee, Dr. Mesfin Teklu Tessema, it has become a matter of discrimination and unscientific for rejecting WHO-approved vaccines.
“Vaccines that have met WHO’s threshold should be accepted. Otherwise, it looks like there’s an element of racism here,” he said.
According to Dr. Raghib Ali of the University of Cambridge, declining to recognize vaccines authorized by WHO will impede attempts to resume travel.
“You can’t just cut off countries from the rest of the world indefinitely,” said Ali. “To exclude some people from certain countries because of the vaccine they’ve received is wholly inconsistent because we know that these approved vaccines are extremely protective.”
Meanwhile, among the WHO accepted vaccines are the Sinovac and Sinopharm doses that come from China, which have been reported to be much less effective than those rolled out in the U.S.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine conducted on Chile’s database showed that Sinovac is 65.9% effective in shielding COVID-19 infection, 87.5% effective at preventing hospitalization, and 86.3% effective at preventing death.
Seychelles, an island nation in the Somali Sea segment of the Indian Ocean that became one of the world’s most vaccinated countries in March, used the Sinopharm vaccine for 57% of the recipients.
But as reported by Business Insider, by mid-May, the country unprecedentedly witnessed a sharp increase in infected cases despite having roughly 60% of their population fully immunized. As of May 10, its authorities reported that more than a third of vaccinated residents in Seychelles had contracted the virus.
Since then, more countries that employ Chinese vaccines have seen an increase in infections, severely damaging the vaccine’s reputation.