Malta U-turns to allow British travellers with Indian-made AstraZeneca jab in

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Britons who were given an Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine will no longer be turned away from Malta, the transport secretary has said.

Grant Shapps said that Maltese authorities have “amended their travel advice” to allow entry for all holiday-makers who received the jab in Britain, regardless of where it was manufactured.

“All vaccines have gone through rigorous safety and quality checks,” he added in a tweet.

Malta has yet to confirm the change.

Up to five million British people have been given the version of the jab without being told that it is not licensed in the European Union (EU), reports The Telegraph.

While there is nothing wrong with the vaccine, and it has been authorised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is yet to approve it. This means it is not currently being accepted as part of the EU’s vaccine passport scheme.

Some European countries have individually agreed to admit Brits who have had the jab and Malta has now done so too after a couple in their 60s were turned back at Manchester Airport at 3.30am on Friday.

They had tried to board a flight to Malta to visit their son who they had not seen for a year.

Glenda Hardy told the Telegraph: “We were just gutted.

“We thought we’d covered ourselves – we paid for PCR tests, downloaded the NHS app and printed off the letter – but we fell at the final hurdle. I feel like we’re in limbo.

“We haven’t seen our son since he moved there a year ago. We had our flights refunded by Tui, but that’s by-the-by. Our big fear is that we just don’t know when we’ll be able to go to Malta.”

Her husband Steve added: “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?”

They had been travelling with the travel operator Tui. The official who turned the couple back told them to try to get a “third jab”, so they each had two doses of an EU-recognised vaccine.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Brits who have received doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India should not be prevented from travelling.

Mr Shapps said the Government would be taking up the issue with Maltese authorities which do not accept the Indian-made vaccine.

“It is not right and it shouldn't be happening,” he told BBC Breakfast.

The Department of Health and Social Care previously said British people who had received the Indian-made jabs would not be negatively impacted.

A spokesman said earlier this month: “All AstraZeneca vaccines given in the UK are the same product and appear on the NHS Covid Pass as Vaxzevria. The European Medicines Agency has authorised this vaccine and we’re confident travel will not be affected.”

The batch numbers for the Indian manufactured doses, produced by the Serum Institute of India and known as Covishield, appear on the Covid Travel Pass in the NHS App (4120Z001, 4120Z002 and 4120Z003).

“Entry will not be allowed if the vaccine batch on your certificate is from one of the following: 4120Z001, 4120Z002, 4120Z003,” according to Malta’s latest travel guidelines, updated on July 7.

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