EU Digital Covid Certificate

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The non-inclusion of Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, by the European Medicines Agency or EMA for its “vaccine passport” programme has restricted many Indian travellers, Scholars, businessmen and other concerned people from visiting European Countries and carry out their essential works.

To delve more into the matter it’s very essential to know first what is this EU vaccine passport or EU Digital Covid Certificate. This vaccine passport has been created to restore freedom of travel and remove the barriers to entry placed due to the pandemic. 

What Is EU Digital Covid Certificate? And its Issuer 

The EU Digital Covid Certificate or the “green pass” is a digital proof that a person either has been vaccinated against Covid-19 or had a negative test result recently or recovered from COVID-19 infection lately. The EU Digital Covid Certificate document will be accepted across all European Union countries. The “green pass”  will make the experience of travellers hassle-free by doing away with restrictions i.e. such travellers will be able to travel throughout Europe without the need to quarantine or test for COVID-19.

Though the ‘vaccine passport’ or EU Digital Covid Certificate has been touted as a ticket to bring things to normalcy, but it has given rise to concerns over intrusion, privacy and a curb on free movement.

For all EU citizens, the certificate can be received from the countries where they have got vaccinated. The EU Digital Covid Certificate or green pass can be issued by hospitals, testing centres and health authorities. Non-EU residents should apply for such a document through their destination Member State. The Green Pass has two variants –  it can be stored on a mobile device or can be downloaded as a paper version. Both versions will have a QR code containing essential information and a digital signature. A common design will be used for the EU Digital Covid Certificate electronic and paper versions to facilitate the recognition.

Vaccines approved by EMA? 

The European Medicines Agency has approved four vaccines till now. The list is given below. 

  • Vaxzevria manufactured by Oxford-AstraZeneca
  • Comirnaty manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Spikevax manufactured by Moderna
  • Janssen manufactured by Johnson & Johnson

The EU Digital Covid Certificate or Green Pass will prove that its holder has been vaccinated besides containing additional information on the vaccine.

Key Feature of  EU Digital Covid Certificate

The EU Digital Covid Certificate contains the following details of the person

  • Full Name 
  • Date of birth
  • Issuing Member State name
  • A QR code

Besides the above mentioned details, a Green Pass will have additional information based on the immunity status of the cardholder.

  • If vaccinated: name of the vaccine and manufacturer, number of doses taken, vaccination date
  • If done PCR or Rapid Antigen test: type, date and time of test, test centre name and the results
  • If recovered from COVID-19: positive test result date, certificate issuer name, issuance and validity date

What is the need for such a document?

The tourism industry was one of the sectors which was severely impacted due to the spread of the COVID-19. Now when things seem to be a little bit settled down, every nation is trying their best to bring the tourism industry on track but not at the cost of their citizen safety. Therefore, countries have been contemplating EU Digital Covid certificates or passports that will act as armour against the disease spread. Israel became the first country in February to issue certificates called “vaccine passports”.

Impact of EU Digital Covid Certificate/ vaccine passports on Developing Countries

Though the European Union has made it clear that the “green pass/ EU Digital Covid Certificate” is not a precondition to travel, but only a precautionary measure to control the spread of COVID-19 and exempts individuals from official border restrictions and quarantine requirements, yet the issue has raked up debate on concerns about privacy and ethics.  

Developing countries like India where coverage of population vaccinated is still low compared to developed countries are concerned about it. Countries say a number of legal, ethical, and practical considerations remain unaddressed. Also, giving authorization to vaccines used in Europe and North America create discrimination against the developing world as there exist global inequality in vaccine access, manufacturing and distribution. Stats says world’s poorest countries will be able to reach 60% vaccination somewhere around 2023, or later.

India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has met with his EU counterpart High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles and has raised the issue that Indian travellers can face if they don’t have one of four vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency. This stand is significant as Covishield that has received WHO authorisation, has not been included in the list. Such move can increase inequality as it restricts passengers movement from countries not having access to such vaccines. At the same time undermining confidence in life-saving vaccines that have shown to be safe and effective against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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