The EU Vs. the COVID: Concerns Mount Over Sputnik Jab Safety and EU‘s ‘Travel Certificates’

Written by | Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Four people recently died in Russia shortly after taking the Sputnik V anti-corona jab in previously unreported cases, which are being taken “seriously” by the EU regulator, the Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency (EMA). Six other Russians also had medical complications after taking the vaccine, according to internal case files from RosPotrebNadzor, a Russian body responsible for administering vaccinations. But Russia has reassured the EU that its anti-coronavirus vaccines have not caused a single death, following reports in European media on potential side-effects. “We are constantly monitoring the safety of vaccines against coronavirus,” Alla Samoilova, the head of Roszdravnadzor, told the media.
Meanwhile, there have also been mounting concerns over the low efficiency of Chinese-made vaccines. In a rare acknowledgement, one of Beijing’s top health officials said existing vaccines offer low protection against COVID-19, raising questions for those nations now relying heavily on the Chinese jabs. “We will solve the issue that current vaccines do not have very high protection rates,” said George Fu Gao, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Prevention and Control, at a recent forum (10 April), adding that adjusting the dosage or sequential immunisation and mixing vaccines might boost efficacy. Some, mostly central and eastern European countries have already been using Chinese-made vaccines and some others have been pushing for their approval.
EU commissioner for justice Didier Reynders on Tuesday (13 April) announced that a pilot project for EU-wide vaccine certificates could be launched “in the beginning of June” – aiming to have the whole system operating by the end of June. But both MEPs and member states still have to give green light to the proposal. EU-27 ambassadors gave the go-ahead on Wednesday (14 April) to the Council’s position in the upcoming negotiations with the European Parliament on the digital green certificates, a tool conceived by the European Commission to ease travel restrictions in the summer season despite the pandemic. The green certificates are expected to provide evidence that people have been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from COVID-19, enabling them to travel freely within the EU while staying safe. The Council has voted to introduce new aspects concerning the use of personal data collected, adding in its negotiating mandate that data may be processed for other purposes, including retention periods.

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