Shapps: Brits with India-made AstraZeneca vaccine turned away by Malta 'misunderstanding'

14 July 2021, 10:25 | Updated: 14 July 2021, 10:34

Malta rejecting visitors with Indian AZ doses is likely 'misunderstanding', says Transport Secretary
Malta rejecting visitors with Indian AZ doses is likely 'misunderstanding', says Transport Secretary. Picture: PA/Alamy

By Tim Dodd

Nick Ferrari challenged Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to explain why a couple who'd had an Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine were prevented from flying to Malta.

It comes as a couple from Hull were turned away from Manchester airport due to their doses of Covishield, which is not licensed by the EU.

Nick Ferrari asked Mr Shapps: "Have we been giving people some dodgy AstraZenencas?"

"No, [an] Indian version of the Oxford AstraZeneca is signed off by our medicines regulator, the MHRA", Mr Shapps replied.

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"I think the confusion in Malta may be that the Serum Institute in India produce two different vaccines, one is called Vaxzevria and the other is called Covishield. The Covishield one is not signed off by our medicines agency... it is not given at all in this country.

"Every single dose of coronavirus vaccine given in this country is absolutely signed off by the MHRA, and it won't surprise you to hear that we'll be speaking to our friends and colleagues in Malta today to try and clear up what I believe may just be a straightforward misunderstanding."

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Nick replied: "I have to say, to justify your stance, it does seem many European countries are happy to take this strain, it just appears Malta have freelanced this decision so that needs to be resolved."

Starting today, visitors to the Mediterranean island nation must present a Covid-19 vaccination certificate recognised by Maltese health authorities, meaning certificates issued by Malta, the European Union or the United Kingdom.

Malta is currently on England's Green list, meaning anyone who decides to holiday there can return home without the need to quarantine upon arrival.