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Not Received Covishield Approval Request, Says EU Medical Body

NEW DELHI, June 29: The European Medicine Agency has not received a request for the approval of Covishield in the COVID-19 'vaccination passport' with the European Union, the EU said today amid concerns among Covishield-vaccinated Indians facing issues with travel to Europe. The European Union has not yet recognised the India-made version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine.

It said temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU are in place from many countries, including India, due to the pandemic.

"Concerning a possible EMA authorisation for Covishield, as of yesterday, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) stated that it had not received a request for approval. It will examine any such request when received, as per its procedures," the EU said in a statement.

Serum Institute of India, that manufactures Covishield, had requested the government to take up the issue of the vaccine's inclusion in the EU 'vaccination passport', sources said.

"India has a large population. However, not including Covishield into the EU COVID-19 Vaccination Passport will not allow Covishield vaccinated people to travel to European countries and this will affect students, business travellers back and forth, and cause severe disruptions to our economy and to the global economy," a news agency attributing to sources, quoted Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla as having written to Foreign Minister Dr S Jaishankar.

On Monday, Mr Poonawalla tweeted that he had "taken this up at the highest levels... with regulators and diplomatic" and that he hoped the matter would be resolved soon.

So far, only those vaccinated by either of the four vaccines - Comirnaty of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Vaxzervria by AstraZeneca-Oxford and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen - will be given vaccination passports and will be allowed restriction-free travel within the EU during the pandemic.

EU member countries, however, have the option to individually accept vaccinations that have been authorised by the World Health Organization (WHO), such as Covishield, thus allowing restriction-free travel in that country.

Pointing out that the "EU Digital Covid Certificate", that will be in place from July 1, is not a pre-condition to travel, the EU said it is meant to facilitate safe free movement during the pandemic within the EU.

"It will serve as proof that a person was vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19," the EU said.

Despite WHO Clearance, EU Green Pass Eligibility List Excludes Covishield

NEW DELHI, June 28: European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved only four Covid-19 vaccines for use in EU member state so far.

Travellers vaccinated with other Covid-19 vaccines that the EMA does not approve may not be eligible for the European Union's "Green Pass".

Travellers who have received the Indian version of Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine, Covishield, may not be eligible for the European Union's "Green Pass", which will be available from July 1.

While this news has raised concern among millions of vaccinated individuals, Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII) which has been manufacturing Covishield, said that he hopes to resolve the issue soon.

Many EU member states have begun to issue a vaccine passport, which will allow Europeans to freely migrate for employment or tourism. The immunity passport will serve as proof that a person has been vaccinated against the Covid-19 or that they have recently tested negative for the virus, or that they have built up natural immunity from the previous infection.

EU earlier stated that member states should issue certificates regardless of the type of Covid-19 vaccine used. But the specifications of the "Green Pass" indicate that this obligation will only apply to those vaccines which have received EU-wide marketing authorisation.

So far, the regulatory body, European Medicines Agency (EMA), has approved four vaccines for use in EU member states—these are Comirnaty which is the EU brand name for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Moderna, Vaxzervria, which is the brand name for Oxford-AstraZeneca jab and Janssen which is Johnson and Johnson's single-dose vaccine.
But EMA has not approved Covishield—which has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use—for the European market, while only Vaxzervria will be recognised for the "Green Pass".

Apart from India, where millions of people have received the SII's Covishield, several low- and middle-income countries have inoculated their population with this vaccine after receiving the doses under WHO's COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative.

However, in the case of people who have obtained a Covid-19 vaccine that is not approved by the EMA, member states have the option of accepting other immunisation certificates. For example, Iceland will allow individuals who got the vaccine approved by the EMA or the WHO. Since Covishield has WHO's approval, people—who got the Indian vaccine—will not be facing any limitations while entering Iceland.

But that is not the case in France, which stated that the travel would be easier for those who have been vaccinated with one of the EMA-approved vaccines. Passengers travelling from India to France are subject to two layers of restrictions. At the time of boarding, all passengers must present a negative RT-PCR report, and they will be tested again once they arrive. As per the official details, vaccine recipients will be required to pledge to self-isolate for at least seven days.

The exclusion of Covishield from the EU "Green Pass" has led Poonawalla to post an "assurance" statement on Twitter. He said: "I assure everyone, I have taken this up at the highest levels and hope to resolve this matter soon, both with regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries".

Jet Airways is back! NCLT approves Kalrock-Jalan consortium's resolution plan

MUMBAI, June 22: The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on June 22, approved the Kalrock-Jalan consortium's resolution plan for Jet Airways, with riders.

The Mumbai bench of the NCLT has given the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) 90 days from June 22 to allot slots to the airline, CNBC-TV18 has reported.

The civil aviation regulator will make the final decision on allotment of slots.

Ashish Chhawchharia, the Insolvency Resolution Professional (IRP) for Jet Airways, told CNBC-TV18 that he was pleased with the NCLT order. He also said he saw no reason for the DGCA to challenge the NCLT's decision.

A government official told the news channel that the DGCA and civil aviation ministry would study the detailed order before deciding on slots. The process of allocating slots to Jet Airways will take time.

After Jet Airways was grounded in April 2019, its slots were allocated to other airlines. The insolvency proceedings were initiated against the airline in June 2019.

In October 2020, the Murari Lal Jalan-Kalrock Capital alliance won the bid for Jet Airways, giving the defunct airline a chance to restart operations.

In a recent affidavit submitted to the bankruptcy court, the MCA and the DGCA said Jet Airways could not not claim historicity to obtain the slots and that allocation of slots would be done in accordance with the existing guidelines.

3 Injured As Turbulence Hits Vistara Flight 15 Minutes Before Landing

KOLKATA, June 7: Three passengers were injured after a Vistara flight traveling from Mumbai to Kolkata encountered severe air turbulence right before landing on Monday. The Boeing 737 had 113 passengers on board.

The flight was hit by turbulence 15 minutes before landing, according to a Vistara spokesperson.

The injured passengers were taken to hospitals after a review at the airport medical facility, said officials. One passenger has been discharged while the other two are undergoing treatment in two different hospitals in Kolkata, they said.

"A 61-year-old passenger received fracture in her right hand and is being shifted to Belle Vue hospital. A 77-year-old passenger received a spinal tenderness injury and he is admitted to Charnock hospital. The third passenger, 36, received a minor cut on forehead and has been released after first aid," aviation regulator DGCA sources said.

"We are investigating the incident on priority, and will share a further update at the earliest," the spokesperson mentioned.

Air India servers hacked; passport, credit card details of 45 lakh customers leaked

NEW DELHI, May 21: National carrier Air India has suffered a major cyberattack, in which the personal information of passengers, including passport, contact, ticket information and credit card details were stolen.

This incident affected around 4,500,000 data subjects in the world, the airline said, adding that the breach involved the data between August 2011 and February 2021.

'The breach involved personal data registered between 26 August 2011 and 3 February 2021, with details that included name, date of birth, contact information, passport information, ticket information, Star Alliance and Air India frequent flyer data (but no passwords data were affected) as well as credit cards data,' a notification from Air India read.

"While we had received the first notification in this regard from our data processor on 25.02.2021, we would like to clarify that the identity of the affected data subjects was only provided to us by our data processor on 25.03.2021 & 5.04.2021, the national carrier clarified.

Read Air India's full statement here:

This is to inform that SITA PSS our data processor of the passenger service system (which is responsible for storing and processing of personal information of the passengers) had recently been subjected to a cybersecurity attack leading to personal data leak of certain passengers. This incident affected around 4,500,000 data subjects in the world.

While we had received the first notification in this regard from our data processor on 25.02.2021, we would like to clarify that the identity of the affected data subjects was only provided to us by our data processor on 25.03.2021 & 5.04.2021. The present communication is an effort to apprise of accurate state of facts as on date and to supplement our general announcement of 19th March 2021 initially made via our website.

The breach involved personal data registered between 26th August 2011 and 3rd February 2021, with details that included name, date of birth, contact information, passport information, ticket information, Star Alliance and Air India frequent flyer data (but no passwords data were affected) as well as credit cards data. However, in respect of this last type of data, CVV/CVC numbers are not held by our data processor.

We would also like to inform you that the following measures to ensure safety of the data were immediately taken:

• Investigating the data security incident;

• Securing the compromised servers;

• Engaging external specialists of data security incidents;

• Notifying and liaising with the credit card issuers;

• Resetting passwords of Air India FFP program.

Further, our data processor has ensured that no abnormal activity was observed after securing the compromised servers.

While we and our data processor continue to take remedial actions including but not limited to the above, we would also encourage passengers to change passwords wherever applicable to ensure safety of their personal data.

The protection of our customers’ personal data is of highest importance to us and we deeply regret the inconvenience caused and appreciate continued support and trust of our passengers.

India extends international passenger flights ban till May 31 amid Covid-19 surge

NEW DELHI, April 30: India extends international passenger flights ban till May 31 amid Covid surge

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday extended the suspension on international flights from and to India till May 31 in view of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, during which the country has been reporting more than 300,000 Covid-19 cases daily for over a week now.

“...the competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued on the subject cited above regarding Scheduled International commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of 31 May, 2021. This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and fights specifically approved by DGCA,” the aviation regulatory body said in a circular.

It added that scheduled international flights, however, may be allowed on selected routes on case to case basis.

International flights were first suspended in March 2020 after a nationwide lockdown was imposed to tackle the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government launched the Vande Bharat Mission in May 2020 to fly home Indians stranded abroad.

“Vande Bharat Mission began during the first wave to repatriate our stranded & distressed citizens & has since then facilitated nearly 82.9 lakh people. Despite personal risk, the corona warriors of civil aviation ensure that the mission continues ahead undaunted,” the Union minister for civil aviation Hardeep Singh Puri wrote on Twitter this morning.

India currently has a bilateral air bubble arrangement for the operation of special international passenger flights with 28 countries, including Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Canada, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, the Maldives, Nigeria, Qatar, the UAE, the UK and the USA. The other countries with which India has such a pact are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Kuwait, Nepal, Netherlands, Oman, Russia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile, several nations, including Australia and Hong Kong, have imposed restrictions on flights connecting them with India amid a massive uptick in cases in the country.




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