WHO “deeply concerned” over Emergency Use Listing vaccines row

UNITED NATIONS – The World Health Organization has state that it is “deeply concerned” that Covid-19 vaccines, which have proven to be effective and have been approved by the global health body for emergency use, are not being recognized in all countries.

Addressing a press briefing, Dr Bruce Aylward, Senior Advisor to WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the organisation again calls on “all countries to ensure the recognition of vaccines proven to be efficacious and safe and certainly that meet WHO Emergency Use Listing criteria.”

On the importance of recognising vaccines for international travel, the WHO is “still deeply concerned that vaccines that have been proven efficacious, have been approved by WHO through the Emergency Use Listing procedure are not being recognised in all countries,” he said.

Dr Katherine O’Brien, Director of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals, added that vaccine recognition is an important issue because it pushes people to be vaccinated with more doses than they would otherwise be recommended if the vaccines they’ve already received that are WHO Emergency Use Listed are not recognized.

She continued to add, “And this again is not something that we should be doing in the face of constrained supply and inadequate supply at this point in countries where people are receiving and seeking out vaccines that they otherwise wouldn’t need for the purpose of their own protection and their own vaccine status.

So, I think these are, these are some of the reasons why this is such a critical issue. And again, calling on all countries to recognize the WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) vaccines, which have met the criteria of efficacy, safety and quality manufacturing,” O’Brien said.

The UK initially refused to recognize AstraZeneca-developed Covishield vaccine, which is manufactured in India by Serum Institute of India.

As a result of the UK’s refusal to accept India’s Covishield certification, travelers were treated as unvaccinated and subjected to a 10-day quarantine with costly Covid tests on day 2 and 8 of arrival. India retaliated by imposing similar restrictions on UK arrivals.

But after India strongly criticized the decision, the UK amended its new guidelines on September 22 to include the vaccine.

UK’s secretary of state for transport Grant Shapps tweeted: “I’m making changes so travellers visiting England have fewer entry requirements by recognising those with fully-vaccinated status from 37 new countries and territories, including India, Turkey and Ghana.”

In the latest developments playing out of this tussle, UK has recognized SII’s Covishield vaccine and eased quarantine requirements for travellers from India.

British high commissioner to India Alex Ellis in a tweet said: “No quarantine for Indian travellers to UK fully vaccinated with Covishield or another UK-approved vaccine from October 11. Thanks to Indian government for close cooperation over last month.”

Through grants, commercial shipments, and the COVAX facility, India has exported over 66 million vaccine doses to nearly 100 countries, helping the bridge the gap of vaccine shortage in high demand in developing nations.

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