The European Commission has said that EU citizens injected with the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 should be able to travel to the US, despite the jab still lacking approval from the American regulator.

On Monday, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients announced that in “early November” the US is planning to reopen for air travelers from 33 countries, including the Schengen Area, which includes 22 out of the EU’s 27 member states. However, Zients didn’t specify what vaccines will be considered acceptable by the US authorities, only saying that many details of the new policy are still being decided upon.

“We believe the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe,” Eric Mamer, European Commission spokesperson, insisted when asked to clarify if those injected with the British jab will be able to fly to the US when the border opens.

“From our point of view, obviously it would make sense for people who have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca to be able to travel,” he said during a press conference. However, Mamer pointed out that it will be up to the US authorities to make the decision on the issue.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has so far approved three locally made jabs from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which rebranded as ‘Vaxzevria’ earlier this year after reports of rare blood clots and suspension of its use in many countries, is still waiting to be greenlighted by the American regulator. The authorization process stalled in March after US authorities accused the UK-Swedish drugmaker of providing them with “outdated and potentially misleading data.” 

Current guidelines by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say people are considered to be fully vaccinated and able to travel if they have received any FDA-approved jab, or any jab approved by the World Health Organization, which AstraZeneca has been.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is approved by all EU nations and some 70 million shots of the jab have already been administered across the bloc, according to public data.

Most EU countries refuse access to travelers vaccinated with jabs that have not been approved by the bloc’s regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Those barred include people injected with the Russian-made Sputnik V jab, which has been authorized in 70 countries and shown to have a 97.6% efficacy among Russians who received both shots.

Sputnik V developers filed for authorization with the EMA in early 2021, but no decision has been made yet, with Moscow officials suggesting that the protracted registration process could be politically motivated.

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