Covaxin and Sinopharm not approved in Europe: Expats in Mauritius in limbo

Expat news
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Published on 2021-06-16 at 10:00 by Veedushi
Since last week, expatriates who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Mauritius and who had travel plans to Europe are in limbo. The European Medicines Agency has announced that the Sinopharm and Covaxin vaccines are not recognised within the European Union and the Schengen area.

The European Union has already made it clear that they will only accept the vaccine passport approved by the AEM. Sinopharm and Covaxin, donated to Mauritius by China and India, are not listed in their approved vaccines. So expatriates who got their Sinopharm and Covaxin jabs in Mauritius will have to complete additional sanitary procedures, although the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. These should soon be included in the Covax vaccination program.

For now, only expatriates who have been inoculated with EU-approved vaccines, namely, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) and AstraZeneca (Oxford or Covishield), are exempt from certain health obligations such as quarantine and self-isolation, or the PCR test, upon their arrival in Europe. In short, those who have been inoculated with Sinopharm and Covaxin won't be considered vaccinated. So they will have to provide negative PCR tests. This is making things complicated for Feroz, a Franco-Mauritian who is currently in Mauritius with his wife, who also has dual nationality. “We thought we would be able to return to France at the end of July,” he says. But since they have both got Covaxin jabs, he definitely needs to review his plans.

From now on, only travellers from green zone countries are exempt from quarantine on arrival provided they provide a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of departure or an approved vaccination certificate. Regarding those coming orange and red zones, including Mauritius, quarantine on arrival or self-isolation is required, depending on the country of origin.

Jay, another French expat, had also planned to leave Mauritius on July 28. “I got the Sinopharm jab which is not recognised in Europe either, so I'm quite annoyed. When I sought information from the Consulate, they redirected me to the French Embassy website, indicating that we have to produce a negative PCR taken less than 72 hours or an antigen test of less than 48 hours. So we don't have to prove any kind of vaccination. Besides, we have to self-isolate for seven days upon our arrival", he says.

So those who are planning to travel to Europe very soon don't really have the choice. Paid PCR tests are being carried out in many private clinics in Mauritius. They might as well postpone their travel plans until the next vaccination campaign, that is to say, after nine months, the estimated maximum duration of the vaccine. Perhaps until then, there will be a wider choice of vaccines, and EU entry conditions will have been relaxed.

It's worth noting that the UK and Canada do not currently recognise Covaxin either.