Will Australian Artists Be Affected By EU Countries Not Recognising Our AZ Vaccine?

9 August 2021 | 3:44 pm | Jessica Dale

"...Fully vaccinated Australians rightly expect their vaccination to be recognised by other countries when travelling internationally."

There is concern over the impact that Australia's COVID-19 vaccination roll-out may have for touring artists with questions raised as to when the AstraZeneca vaccine will be officially recognised in Europe. 

Despite being a vaccine developed in the UK, the AZ vaccine which is manufactured in Australia by biotech company CSL (Oxford AstraZeneca AZD1222) is yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

According to ABC, the UK vaccine is currently being rebranded as Vaxzevria and has been approved by the EMA as a recognised vaccine for those wishing to enter European countries, and now the Australian-manufactured vaccine is also set be renamed, with AstraZeneca registering the name with Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Despite the rebrand being one step closer to the vaccine being recognised in the EU, it doesn't solve all concerns with the Federal Opposition raising concerns about whether Australians with the AZ vaccine will be recognised as fully vaccinated by EU standards. 

"We understand that Australians fully vaccinated with the Australian-made AstraZeneca vaccine are currently unlikely to be recognised as being fully vaccinated when travelling to European Union countries by EU authorities," read a statement from Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Shadow Health Minister Mark Butler.

"This is causing significant concern and distress in the community, as fully vaccinated Australians rightly expect their vaccination to be recognised by other countries when travelling internationally."

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At present, the Australian-manufactured AZ vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for "Emergency Use" which "means it should be recognised by its member countries under the European Union's own guidelines", while lobbying continues for the vaccine to be recognised. 

While it does sound like all bad news, there are reports that the vaccine may still be recognised in the EU but not as the "gold standard" that allows movement throughout the EU without restriction. It's believed that countries including Spain, France, Italy, Sweden, Romania, Greece, Poland, Germany and more may still honour the vaccination but information from the Australian Federal Government on this remains unclear. Those travelling to the EU (when the Australian border reopens or with a travel exemption) can also present a negative test to gain entry while the Pfizer vaccination is recognised around the globe. 

Australians who are currently approved for outwards travel are also eligible for vaccination, with the Home Affairs website currently not specifying any brand preference. 

While countries like the US, UK (which has recently introduced a government-backed insurance scheme to support promoters) and those in the European Union have set out clear plans for the renewal of their live music sectors and touring amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia's industry still remains unclear following the botched vaccine roll-out and subsequent continued lockdowns. 

The Green Room With Tiana Speter podcast has taken a look at the issues facing the Australian music industry a year and a half into the battle with COVID-19, speaking with industry leaders, politicians and artists about the devastating impact. Listen here.