Up to five million Brits could potentially be barred from holidaying in Europe because they received an Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, reports suggest.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has yet to authorise doses produced by Covishield at the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Travellers who have been given this jab could therefore find themselves turned away at EU border crossings when the batch number is checked on their digital Covid passport.
The EU Digital Covid Certificate allows people who are fully vaccinated, recently tested or recovered to travel across the continent without having to quarantine or undergo further testing on arrival.
However, it only recognises EMA-approved doses – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in the UK or Europe.
People will be able to see whether they have had one of the SII jabs by checking the batch number, which is included on vaccine cards and in the Covid travel pass accessible via the NHS app.
Those are 4120Z001, 4120Z002 and 4120Z003, according to The Telegraph.
There is no suggestion the Indian-made jabs are in any way less effective.
The EMA has not approved the Covishield version because the manufacturers have not yet sought a licence for the product in Europe, the newspaper reports.
The European Commission has said that entry into the EU should be open to those who are ‘fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines authorised in the EU’.
The Department for Health has refused to say how many doses of the Indian-made vaccine have been administered in the UK, but it was widely reported that five million doses were imported this year.
A statement said: ‘As we continue to cautiously reopen international travel, NHS Covid Pass will be a key service that allows people to demonstrate their Covid-19 vaccination status.’
It added that all AstraZeneca doses used in the UK appeared under the name Vaxzevria in medical records and on the NHS app, even if they were made in India.
Therefore, they can only be identified by the batch number.
Coronavirus travel restrictions are likely to be high on the agenda when Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the UK for talks on Friday.
Mrs Merkel has been pressing EU leaders to impose stringent quarantine requirements on arrivals to the bloc from Britain, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson said ‘double jabs will be a liberator’ when asked about reports that fully vaccinated people may be able to travel quarantine-free from amber list countries by July 26.