As countries across the world scramble to arrange Covid-19 vaccines, a new debate has emerged about the acceptance of the many different brands of the inoculations.
Countries, based on the recommendations of their own health regulators, are now deciding which vaccines to accept as proof of inoculation and which to disqualify.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is considered to be the most widely accepted, recognised by 119 governments.
AstraZeneca's Indian-made version, Covishield, however, has not had the same fate.
According to some reports, the European Union has said that it would not accept visitors who were jabbed with the Covishield vaccine, which has been approved and is in use in Bangladesh.
The vaccine, produced by Serum Institute of India, is the same as the AstraZeneca vaccine, but was yet to be approved by EU's medicine regulator. This, however, was not a comprehensive disapproval.
While an Economist article states that the vaccine has not been approved in all of EU, the BBC reported that countries as Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Ireland and Spain have made Covishield eligible for travel.
According to schengenvisainfo.com, Estonia has decided to accept vaccines which are not approved by the European Medicines Agency but are recognised in the country of departure.
Similarly, Spain also accepts all vaccines approved by the EMA and WHO, which includes Covishield.
Iceland, Slovenia and Greece have also made similar announcements of accepting the vaccine, according to the website.
Across the ocean, a similar worry about vaccines is plaguing Canadians. Granted that the AstraZeneca vaccine is the most-accepted, just across the border in America, the serum is yet to gain approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration. Vaccinated Canadians worry whether they will be barred from places, including entertainment venues, that require FDA-approved vaccines.
In the meantime, America has ordered 300m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, so there are hopes that an approval will be forthcoming soon.
While AstraZeneca and its Indian version may power through, the same cannot be said of the Chinese vaccines. Even though these vaccines have received emergency authorisation by the WHO, there have been said to be some trial data gaps.
Russia's Sputnik V, India's Covaxin and Cuba's Abdala vaccine are also other vaccines which may not gain international acceptance any time soon, with many pointing to political reasons for rushing their approval amid claims that those would not pass more stringent inspections by other regulatory bodies.
A silver lining in all of this can be the May, 2021, announcement by the US government which backed waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, a call that has been made for long.
According to a The Lancet report, more than a 100 countries are in support of the move, with such a waiver subject to negotiations at the World Trade Organisation.
However, the waiver also has powerful opponents in EU, Japan and the UK.
But if passed, it would mean that countries such as Bangladesh can easily turn to vaccine production. The government of Bangladesh has also repeatedly expressed its readiness to manufacture vaccines on their own, pending approval.
Prashant Yadav (Center for Global Development, Washington, DC, USA) told The Lancet that the earliest a waiver could come into force would be around October, 2021. "A waiver could potentially help increase supply, but not this year", he said, adding the first commercial batches would not be available until the summer of 2022.
For now though, the world must wait with a bated breath and see how this vaccine battle plays out on the international front.
With 3.7bn vaccine doses already administered around the world, people are ready to travel. But until the vaccine mess is sorted out, foreign trips for many may remain a pipe dream.