Virologist brands it a 'mystery' EMA 'does not recognise' AZ jab

2 July 2021, 17:42

By Tim Dodd

Cambridge University Virologist Dr Chris Smith says it's a 'mystery' why the Astrazeneca vaccine, made to an identical specification in India, shouldn't be accepted by the European Medicines Agency.

The conversation comes as The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said it does not recognise a version of the vaccine produced by Covishield at the Serum Institute of India (SII).

This means British holidaymakers may potentially be banned from visiting Europe under its EU Digital Covid Certificate as only vaccines approved by the EMA are included.

Tom Swarbrick began by asking: "Why would certain nations or states be worried about a vaccine that has been injected into people in this country? What about the makeup of the vaccine is worrying people?"

"Unclear," replied Mr Smith.

"The way in which this is being made, it should be being made to a standard, and assessed to a standard, that's what quality control and quality assurance is all about.

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"And India's Serum Institute have been vaccinating the world for a really long time, so it's something of a mystery to me why a vaccine made to identical specification in one place, shouldn't be accepted onto the list.

"Maybe it's an oversight, I'm not sure. I hope they rectify it soon because a lot of people are receiving that vaccine and it's going to impact on lots of people."

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As many as five million doses of the affected batches have been administered in the UK to date. The Serum Institute of India is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced, and it is estimated that around 65% of the world's children have received at least one vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute.

The EU Digital Covid Certificate allows those who are fully vaccinated to move across borders within the EU.

Currently, the EMA-approved vaccines are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs manufactured in the UK or Europe.