As many European countries announce extra measures for British travellers due to the spread of the Delta variant, another revelation threatens British residents’ ability to travel. Due to a bureaucratic technicality regarding a EU vaccination regulations, five million UK residents could now face travel issues on their European holidays this summer and even find themselves excluded from the bloc.
The EU recently introduced of its vaccine certification scheme, the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which enables travellers to verify their vaccination status when scanning the digital certificate at airports and borders and therefore enter the country accordingly. However, only vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are allowed in the EUDCC, which is causing problems for many British residents (those affected will have batch numbers 4120Z001, 4120Z002 and 4120Z003 on their patient card and NHS app) who have been given a particular version of AstraZeneca.
Whilst over 70 million doses of this vaccine have been administered in the UK, 5 million of these are the version known as Covishield which is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. Although chemically identical and equally protective against the virus as the AstraZeneca vaccine, Covishield is manufactured in India and this bureaucratic oversight could leave millions of fully vaccinated people unable to travel freely in the EU. The EMA has not approved Covishield and so despite the fact that the British government has used doses manufactured in India, UK and Europe under the same name, when presented in airports via the digital NHS app the brand will be unrecognised by the EUDCC gateway, leaving travellers unable to travel. Additionally Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and Malta have all added extra testing and quarantine measures for British travellers due to the Delta variant.