Austria has removed AstraZeneca’s Covishield, manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, from its list of “approved vaccines” despite a surge in coronavirus cases in the country.
The list of approved vaccines is meant for “entering any type of accommodation, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, leisure centres, gyms, cultural institutions, on cable cars/ski lifts and for body-related services”, stated an updated advisory by the government.
Austria has been recording over 11,000 new coronavirus cases on a daily basis. Since October 15, the Covid-19 curve has shown an upward trend. About a fortnight ago, the country was registering nearly 5,000 cases a day, which has more than doubled.
On Monday, Austria updated its 3-G rules for entry into the country and 2-G rules for stay in the country. In its updated guidelines, the Austrian government noted, “Covishield, Sinopharm and Sinovac are only accepted to enter Austria”.
While Covishield is manufactured in India, Sinopharm and Sinovac are both produced by China. All the three vaccines have been approved by the World Health Organization.
Vaccines developed by AstraZeneca is approved along with BioNtech/Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna for entry into public entertainment spaces and eateries. But, those vaccinated with Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, along with Sinopharm and Sinovac, are not allowed to produce a negative RT-PCR report for entry into these places.
However, universities have allowed students vaccinated with Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covishield to enter the campus for now.
Unvaccinated people in Austria will only be allowed to leave home for limited reasons, according to the BBC.
Indians who plan to visit Austria for a long-term purpose, such as education, will now have to get both doses of the approved vaccines, or can get one dose of an approved vaccine and produce an RT-PCR negative report to enter restaurants, cafes, theatres and cultural institutions. This rule is valid till December 6.
An official from the Ministry of External Affairs said they will have to look into the updated guidelines. Serum Institute of India has declined to comment on the matter.
Scroll.in has sent an email to the Austrian embassy. The article will be updated once they respond.
Austria is in the list of countries from where travellers would not require mandatory quarantine if they travel to India and are vaccinated.
While India does not appear in the list of “safe countries” on Austria’s website, a special provision of providing Schengen tourist visa is available for Indian tourists.
Under this, those vaccinated with Covishield will not be required to follow the 10-day quarantine rule. Covaxin, although approved for Emergency Use Authorisation by the World Health Organization, is also not in the approved vaccine list by the European Medicines Agency.