UK includes Covishield, but not India for vaccine certification; British HC says it is in talks with Govt of India

New Delhi : Under pressure from India, the UK has included AstraZeneca’s Covishield as an approved vaccine but not India among countries with a recognised public healthy body giving the vaccine certification. The British High Commission on Wednesday said it is engaging with the Government of India on the issue.

The latest advisory says that “Formulations of the 4 listed vaccines such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, qualify as approved vaccines”.

It also says that travellers with a full course of “Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines from a relevant public health body in Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan or the United Arab Emirates (UAE)” will qualify as fully vaccinated.

Leaving out India among the countries listed means that Indian travellers will have to undergo mandatory quarantine after arrival in the UK, despite being fully vaccinated with Covishield.

A British High Commission spokesperson said:

“The UK is committed to opening up international travel again as soon as is practicable and this announcement is a further step to enable people to travel more freely again, in a safe and sustainable way, while protecting public health.

“We are engaging with the Government of India to explore how we could expand UK recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India.”

It said that in the meantime Indian travellers to the UK must follow the ‘non-vaccinated rules’ set out in the advisory.

On Monday, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar during a bilateral meeting with the new UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss urged for an early resolution of UK’s quarantine regulations for vaccinated Indian travellers.

In a briefing on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, answering a query on the subject, said that the Covishield vaccine is a licensed product of a UK company manufactured in India and that “India has supplied 5 million doses to the UK at the request of the government of the UK”.

He said that the vaccines were used in the National Health System “and therefore, non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminatory policy and does impact on those of our citizens travelling to the UK.”

He said that after EAM Jaishankar raised the issue strongly with his UK counterpart, “I’m told that certain assurances have been given that this issue would be resolved”.

“I think obviously, as we go along, we will have to see how it goes. But if you don’t get satisfaction, we would be within our eyes to impose reciprocal measures,” he warned.

Last week, the UK issued a list of countries whose vaccines are recognised in England, which does not include India. It places Indians who are vaccinated with Covishield in the category of ‘unvaccinated’. Indians would be required to undergo a pre-departure PCR test and further tests on landing in the UK and 10 days of quarantine.