The UK has revised its travel policy to include Covishield as an approved vaccine after a furious India warned of “reciprocal measures”, but Indians double-vaccinated with the shot still have to quarantine. India is still not on the UK list of countries whose public health bodies have been recognised.
Updated UK guidelines say, “Formulations of the four listed vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Modern Takeda, qualify as approved vaccines.”
However, according to a UK High Commission statement yesterday, its government is “working with India to expand recognition of vaccine certification.” The certification is a centralised national process managed through the CoWin app and portal.
Under the rules, “from 4 am, October 4”, those who have taken vaccines from a “relevant public health body” in certain countries will be considered “fully vaccinated”. This list does not include India.
This suggests that Indians vaccinated with two doses of Covishield, produced by Serum Institute of India (SII), will still need to quarantine even though India is now on the Amber list. The implication is that the problem is not Covishield but doubts over vaccination certification in India.
“We are delighted that Covishield is recognised as a vaccine equivalent to AstraZeneca on the official gov.uk website. However, the matter for travel and quarantine is not resolved and all those looking to travel to the UK should carefully follow official entry guidelines,” Serum Institute’s CEO Adar Poonawalla told NDTV.
RS Sharma, the CEO of the National Health Authority, told NDTV there are “no issues” on CoWin with Covid certification.
“The system is entirely WHO (World Health Organisation) compliant. We continue to have discussions with the International Civil Aviation Organisation as well. The UK High Commissioner visited me on September 2. They wanted to understand the CoWin system, the technical aspects. A resource has been allocated to them for this purpose and two further conversations have happened with their team. These were technical-level conversations,” Dr Sharma said.
This is a new sticking point after India warned of “reciprocal measures” if Covishield, the Indian version of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, was not recognised.
“The non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminatory policy and impacts our citizens travelling to the UK. The External Affairs Minister has raised the issue strongly with the new UK foreign secretary. I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue will be resolved,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had told reporters yesterday.