Boris Johnson plays down concerns over Indian-made AstraZeneca jabs and EU travel - what the PM said

Doses were administered to up to five million people in the UK, but have not yet been approved by the European Medicines Agency

Boris Johnson has played down concerns that up to five million Britons could be barred from taking holidays in the European Union because their vaccinations are not recognised by its passport scheme.

The Prime Minister said on 2 July that he is “very confident” that the issue, which arose because Indian-manufactured doses of AstraZeneca have a different name, will be resolved.

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Boris Johnson attends a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Chequers, the official country residence of the Prime Minister, in Aylesbury (WPA/Pool/Getty)

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At a glance: 5 key points

- Despite the vaccine being the same as other AstraZeneca jabs, it has not been authorised by Europe’s regulator and is therefore not recognised by the EU

- One UK vaccines expert earlier described the matter as an “administrative hurdle”

- The problem centres on doses made by the Serum Institute of India being known as Covishield

- The EU is rolling out a Digital Covid Certificate so travellers can prove their vaccination status in order to exempt them from quarantining when crossing an international border

- EU sources said it is not yet clear whether the UK will use the NHS app or another one in order to display vaccination status

What’s been said

Following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Johnson said vaccines approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) should be recognised internationally.

“I see no reason at all why the MHRA-approved vaccines should not be recognised as part of the vaccine passports, and I am very confident that will not prove to be a problem,” he told a joint press conference at his Buckinghamshire residence in Chequers.

Earlier, Professor Adam Finn, from the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the batches are “exactly the same stuff”.

“This is an administrative hurdle that needs to be straightened out but people should not be concerned that they are in some way less well protected,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We’re in the early days of this new world of needed vaccine passports and there are lots of aspects of this that are still being sorted out for the first time.

“But it’s clearly, ultimately, not in anyone’s interest, including the European Union, to create hurdles that don’t need to be there.”

Background

Downing Street has said the MHRA has shared its assessment of the vaccines with its counterpart at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to assist the approvals process.

Britain is now in talks with Brussels about easing travel restrictions between the UK and the Continent, discussions which EU sources described as going in the right direction.