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British travellers with India-made AstraZeneca vaccine ‘turned away by Malta’

Up to five million doses of the India-made vaccine have been administered in the UK

Joe Middleton
Wednesday 14 July 2021 00:58 BST
An Indian-made version of the AZ vaccine has not yet been approved by the European medicines regulator
An Indian-made version of the AZ vaccine has not yet been approved by the European medicines regulator (AFP via Getty Images)

British travellers given an Indian-made dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid vaccine are reportedly being barred from entering Malta.

So-called Covishield batches of the AZ jab, made by the Serum Institute of India, have yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) — despite being chemically identical to UK-made matches — and are therefore not required to be recognised by the EU.

Fifteen countries, including Spain and Germany, have said they will accept the India-made doses, up to five million of which have been administered in the UK.

But Malta is refusing entry, as reported by The Daily Telegraph, despite being on the green list of UK-approved destinations.

Malta Tourism Authority guidance states that anyone with an India-made dose — identified by batch numbers 4120Z001, 4120Z002 and 4120Z003 — will not be allowed entry.

Batch numbers are visible on the NHS Covid app, which is used as a ‘certificate’ or ‘vaccine passport’.

Steve and Glenda Hardy, 64 and 63, were preparing to head to the island to see their son for the first time in over a year when they were turned back at Manchester Airport at 3.30am on Friday.

The couple had received the vaccine in March and were stopped by staff on behalf of airline Tui.

Mr Hardy told the newspaper: “When we took our vaccine – we had a vaccine – we were asked to take them. We took both doses. We didn’t know what we were getting.

“We trusted the Government on that. Boris Johnson said that there were no Indian vaccines issued in this country. That’s obviously a lie because it’s on our page.

“The problem is the fact that we can’t see our son. We jumped through the hoops... and then we were hit with this. It was just devastating... what the hell are we supposed to do?”

When asked earlier this month about the potential issue with acceptance of India-made doses of the AZ vaccine, Boris Johnson waved away concerns.

He told reporters: “I’m very confident that that will not prove to be a problem.”

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