KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — France reportedly only recognises, for non-essential travel, Covid-19 vaccines that have been approved by the European Union’s (EU) drug regulator.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has authorised four coronavirus vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Vaxzevria, the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot produced in Europe and the United Kingdom.
The EU’s Digital Covid Certificate — a “vaccine passport” which is currently only for EU citizens and residents — at present only recognises the four EMA-approved vaccines.
France’s Interior Ministry told The Local that “Covishield does not appear on the list of vaccines approved by the EU”. Covishield is the AstraZeneca version manufactured by the Serum Institute of India that has been widely used in low- and middle-income countries under the global COVAX vaccine-sharing programme.
According to The Local, this means that the French government does not count travellers who received the Covishield jab as “fully vaccinated”, as French travel rules technically classify them as “unvaccinated”.
France’s Health Ministry told The Connexion that it would only approve vaccines for international travellers visiting France for non-essential reasons if the shots were authorised by the EMA.
According to the French Interior Ministry’s website, travellers from an Amber List country (which Malaysia is under) will not face any movement restrictions when entering metropolitan France if they are already vaccinated. One’s vaccination status is considered complete 28 days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and 14 days after the second jab with Pfizer, Moderna, or Vaxzevria.
Unvaccinated travellers, however, must give a “compelling reason” — such as being French and EU citizens or residents, as well as British citizens, and their immediate families — to be allowed entry into metropolitan France. Tourism is not listed by the French Interior Ministry.
Unvaccinated travellers must also provide a sworn statement certifying the absence of Covid-19 symptoms and of any contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case, a sworn undertaking to get tested upon arrival in France, and a sworn undertaking to self-isolate for seven days and to take a PCR test at the end of the quarantine period.
The French government’s “statement of honour” for travellers from Amber List countries titled “Sworn undertaking to comply with rules for entry into metropolitan French territory” lists testing and seven-day self-isolation in a facility designated by French authorities if travellers are “not vaccinated under a complete vaccination schedule recognised by the European Medicines Agency”.
France 24 reported that French nationals living abroad are facing difficulties travelling back home, as French authorities are reluctant to recognise non-residents’ vaccination status.
“I received two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine but the EU won’t hear of it,” François Legros, a teacher at the Jean-Mermoz French high school in Dakar, Senegal, told France 24. “I am going home to France on Thursday for the holidays but I feel frustrated because I won’t be considered as having been vaccinated by the authorities there. I won’t be able to go to concerts, for example.”
SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) as saying that Switzerland’s Covid-19 certificate only accepts Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson shots.
“The Covid certificate only documents vaccines authorised in Switzerland,” FOPH was quoted saying. “A Covid certificate cannot be issued for any other vaccines.”
According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, Ireland, Germany, and Austria have yet to issue a formal notice on whether their Covid-19 certificates accept Covishield.
Based on official notification, Spain accepts all Covid-19 vaccines approved by the EMA and the World Health Organization (WHO) for travellers. The WHO’s emergency-use listing covers AstraZeneca vaccines produced by South Korea and India, besides the version manufactured in the EU, as well as the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Chinese vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac.
Iceland’s Directorate of Health lists the following as accepted vaccines for travellers: AstraZeneca/ SK Bio, the shot produced in South Korea, Covishield, Chinese vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac, as well as the EMA-approved Pfizer, Vaxzevria, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna.
Estonia and Greece announced they would accept vaccines recognised in travellers’ country of departure, even if these shots have not been authorised by the EMA yet.
The EU delegation to Malaysia said in a statement Wednesday that EU member countries are free to accept Covid-19 vaccine documentation issued by countries outside the region — not just the EU Digital Covid Certificate — but also noted that there is no common list of entry requirements across the region.
Malaysia has rolled out the Pfizer, Sinovac, and AstraZeneca vaccines produced in South Korea (from the COVAX order), Thailand (direct procurement), and Japan (contribution of a million doses from the Japanese government).
Update: This article was updated with information from the French Interior Ministry’s website in paragraphs 7-10.