News Brief

UK Updates List Of Vaccines To Accept Covishield; Still No Clarity On Acceptance Of CoWIN Certificate

Swarajya Staff

Sep 22, 2021, 01:46 PM | Updated 01:46 PM IST

Britain’s PM Boris Johnson. 
Britain’s PM Boris Johnson. 
  • The same Covishield that UK hadn't recognised — its five million doses were supplied by India to the UK at the latter's request and were used in UK's National Health System.
  • The United Kindom (UK) today in a fresh release said that "Formulations of the 4 listed vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, qualify as approved vaccines." This brings to end a bizarre policy where the AstraZeneca vaccine was approved in the country but not its Indian avatar, Covishield.

    However, at the time of writing, there was still no clarity on whether the UK had also accepted the CoWIN certificates of vaccination. As a result, travellers from India still be required to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in the UK.

    Earlier yesterday, India's Ministry of External Affairs had said that the UK could see "reciprocal measures" from India over its quarantine policy for Indians.

    At a press briefing on Tuesday (21 September), Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that India could impose “reciprocal measures” on London if it maintained the current quarantine policy. There was an option of mutual recognition of vaccination certificates, he added.

    Shringla's briefing came hours after Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar met his British counterpart Elizabeth Truss in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. EAM Jaishankar had earlier also remarked he had taken up the matter with Truss and “urged early resolution of the issue in mutual interest”.

    Shringla was quoted as saying by The Hindu:

    “The External Affairs Minister has raised this issue strongly with his counterpart, the new UK Foreign Secretary, and I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue would be resolved. And as you saw, the Minister has said this issue should be resolved at the earliest to mutual satisfaction."

    "We have also offered some of our partner countries the option of mutual recognition of vaccination certificates or vaccine certification. But these are reciprocal measures. I think, if, obviously, as we go along, we will have to see how it goes. If we don’t get satisfaction, we would be well within our rights to impose reciprocal measures.”

    Discriminatory Policy

    The expanded list of countries whose vaccines are recognised in the UK does not include even now, according to reports. The UK policy to impose 10 days quarantine on fully vaccinated Indians revealed unfair treatment to vaccines made in India. This drew sharp criticism in India with many saying that the policy smacked of racism.

    “The basic issue is that here is a vaccine, Covishield, which is a licensed product of a UK company, manufactured in India. Of this [Covishield], we have supplied five million doses to the UK, at the request of the UK. We understand this has been used in their National Health System and therefore, non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminatory policy,” Shringla stated.

    This policy hurt Indian nationals travelling to the UK, he said.

    Early August, Britain moved India to the ‘Amber list’ from the 'Red List'. This opened the British “visit visas” to Indian travellers “irrespective of vaccination status” and allowed 10 days of quarantine at home instead of in a hotel. The travellers can take a test for COVID-19 after five days and end the quarantine based on the result.

    As per The Hindu report, the recognition of Covishield of the SII was not as much an issue for the UK and the real problem was the vaccine certificate, which is stuck on procedural and technical matters related to UK's healthcare database.

    Earlier, a British High Commission spokesperson said, “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.” At the Tuesday briefing, Shringla said he had been told that certain "assurances" were given by the UK that the issue will be resolved.


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