The UK government will be “speaking to” Maltese authorities after reports that some British travellers were being denied entry because they received an Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the move after it emerged Malta’s government is not accepting British travellers who have received this version of the AstraZeneca jab, which has been given to around five million people in the UK.
“It’s not right and should not be happening in our view,” said Shapps when asked about the issue on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday (14 July).
“It does not matter whether the AstraZeneca [vaccine] you have is made here or by the Serum Institute in India. They are absolutely the same product and provide absolutely the same certification and level of protection from the virus.
“We will certainly speak to Maltese colleagues to point all of this out. It’s up to them what they do. We will be making the scientific point in the strongest possible terms.”
The confusion has been created because the Indian-produced version of the AstraZeneca vaccine has yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Although it is on the World Health Organisation (WHO) list of approved vaccines.
Several EU countries have already agreed to accept the Indian-made vaccine but Malta has yet to do so.
Shapps also confirmed there would be an update to the green, amber and red lists later this week but stressed no decisions on any changes had been made yet.
“The review is due this week and in the next couple of days we will be able to say more about that,” he added. “We’ve not reviewed the data yet and made those decisions.
“We do expect that countries will move from one category to another because we are living in a world where things can and do change quite quickly.”