UK nods Covishield but non-vaccinated rules for Indians

Covishield added to UK travel advisory, but Indians to follow ‘non-vaccinated’ rules

India is not yet on a list of 17 countries on an approved vaccinations list and therefore not exempt from quarantine rules

A vial of Covishield Covid-19 vaccine. Credit: AFP Photo

After New Delhi warned of “reciprocal measures”, the British government on Wednesday revised its new travel rules to recognise Covishield as one of the “approved” Covid-19 vaccines, but the travellers inoculated with the jab in India will still have to undergo mandatory quarantine procedure upon arrival in the United Kingdom.

As the British government’s new travel rules continued to draw flak, London’s envoy to New Delhi, Alex Ellis pointed out in a tweet that the visitors from the UK had to remain in home quarantine for seven days upon arrival in India even if they tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

If the new travel rules introduced by the British government are not revised further before October 4, any traveller inoculated with the Covishield Covid-19 vaccine in India will not be treated as “fully vaccinated” when they visit the UK.

Also read: India to target children for Covid-19 vaccine from October

The travellers, however, will be considered “fully vaccinated” and exempted from mandatory quarantine requirement, if they were administered the Covishield or any other “approved” SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in the US or anywhere in Europe, including in the UK itself, or in Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

A source told DH that New Delhi had on Wednesday again conveyed its disappointment to the British government as the revision of the new travel rules was not enough to address concerns over discrimination against the people travelling to the UK after being inoculated in India.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi likely to hold a bilateral meeting with his UK counterpart Boris Johnson in New York later this week, New Delhi is now preparing to take up the issue with the British government at the highest level.

The British government recently introduced the new travel rules which stated that only those, who were inoculated with the vaccines, such as the double dose ones developed by AstraZeneca PLC, Pfizer Inc and the Moderna Inc or the single dose ones developed by the Johnson and Johnson’s will be considered fully vaccinated and hence, will be exempted from mandatory quarantine requirement on arrival in the UK.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) manufactured the AstraZeneca PLC’s vaccine in India after the company authorised it to do so and marketed it as Covishield.

But the British government’s new travel rules initially did not include it in the list of the approved vaccines for treating travellers as inoculated. This triggered sharp reaction from New Delhi with Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla saying on Tuesday that India could take reciprocal measures if the UK continued with its "discriminatory" policy.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also took it up with his counterpart in the British government, Liz Truss, in New York on Tuesday.

The British government made some changes in the rule and recognised Covishield as an approved vaccine. It, however, did not recognise the vaccination programme in India. This implies that it will recognise as vaccinated only the people, who had been inoculated with Covishield in the UK or in any of the countries specifically identified in the new travel rules, but not the ones who received the same vaccine shots in India.

India had earlier this year supplied five million doses of Covishield to the UK and the British government administered the jabs to citizens under its National Health System’s official inoculation programme.

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