Study Abroad: Students fear huge losses due to EMA’s non-approval of vaccines – Times of India

By | July 6, 2021

The biggest worry of an IIT Bombay graduate, who has taken admission into INSEAD MBA (class of 2022) is his inability to travel to France. While the Ambassador of France to India has confirmed reopening of borders last month, students enrolled in European universities are yet to receive any formal communication from the authorities.

“The latest issue related to non-approval of Covishield by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has come as an insult to injury,” says the IIT Bombay graduate who opted for France over the US for higher studies. France has announced that they will only allow EMA approved vaccines.

To facilitate safe and free movement in the EU during the Covid-19 pandemic, the member countries of the European Commission have started using the EU’s Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), popularly known as ‘Green Pass’. The EUDCC is a digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19; received a negative test result; or recovered from Covid-19.


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Currently, four Covid-19 vaccines: Comirnaty (BioNTech-Pfizer), Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Moderna and Vaxzevria (Oxford-AstraZeneca) are recognised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Covishield, the Indian version of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria jab, is yet to be approved by the EMA. The exclusion of Covishield from the EU’s ‘Green Pass’ has left the Indian students stranded.

Realising the plight of Indian travelers, Adar Poonawalla, CEO Serum Institute, recently announced that the issue will be taken up with the regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries.

Students traumatised

“Students worried about their studies have been anxiously tweeting their plight, but to no avail from Indian and French authorities. It is traumatising for students like me,” says the IIT graduate who believes that it would be a waste of money and hard work if they are not allowed to travel on time. Online classes are not an alternative to on-campus experience and exposure that too after paying a huge amount as fee, he said.

Early redressal needed

Delhi girl Swati Kalra has twice rescheduled her travel to France. She was supposed to be at the campus by June to start her language class from July 5. “It is mandatory to have A2 level proficiency in third language before doing INSEAD MBA,” says Swati who is now spending extra money to learn Spanish in India.

“We are desperately trying to connect with authorities requesting them to allow us to travel. We are losing out academically and financially. If not allowed to travel on time, we will not get any refund for rent already paid,” says Swati.

Indian students have been heading to Europe for the pursit of higher education in management, science, and research, among other areas. “The current situation has come as a setback for students who are all prepared to start their course in a foreign country. Exclusion of Covishield from the list of approved vaccines by EMA sounds discriminatory,” says Sumeet Jain, Co-founder, Yocket. The problem must be addressed at the earliest for the candidates’ betterment, adds Jain.

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