UK scraps quarantine rule for fully vaccinated Indians

Fully vaccinated Indians travelling to UK from Monday need not quarantine

The announcement came hours after India said it is hopeful of finding a solution to the vaccine certification row

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

The British Government has finally relented and agreed to exempt travellers inoculated with two doses of the Covishield Covid-19 vaccine in India from mandatory quarantine on arrival to the United Kingdom.

Almost a week after New Delhi announced retaliatory measures in response to the British Government’s new “discriminatory” travel rules, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government in London agreed to recognise the vaccination certificate issued to people fully inoculated with Covishield in India. The latest changes in the British Government’s travel rules will come into effect from 9:30 am IST on October 11.

“No quarantine for Indian travellers to UK fully vaccinated with Covishield or another UK-approved vaccine from 11 October,” Alex Ellis, the UK’s envoy to India, tweeted after the British Government’s Secretary of State Grant Shapps announced the changes in the new travel rules that came into effect last Monday.

Shapps announced in London that eligible travellers vaccinated in 37 more countries and territories, including India, Brazil, Ghana, Hong Kong, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey, would also be treated on par with returning fully vaccinated UK residents, if they had not visited a “red list” country or territory in the 10 days before arrival.

The British Government’s new travel rules had initially stipulated that only those people who had been inoculated with the vaccines, such as the double dose ones developed by the AstraZeneca PLC, Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc or the single-dose one developed by the Johnson and Johnson’s would be considered fully vaccinated and hence would be exempted from mandatory quarantine requirement on arrival in the UK.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) is authorised to manufacture AstraZeneca PLC’s vaccine in India and markets it as Covishield. But the British Government’s new travel rules had initially not included it in the list of the approved vaccines for treating travellers as inoculated and hence entitled for exemption from quarantine requirement upon arrival in the UK.

After New Delhi had warned of “reciprocal measures”, the British Government had on September 22 revised its travel rules to recognise Covishield as one of the “approved” Covid-19 vaccines, but still refused to recognise the certificates issued to people who had been inoculated with the jab in India. This meant that people administered with Covishield in India would still have to undergo mandatory quarantine on arrival in the UK from Monday, unlike the ones administered with the same jab or any other “approved” Covid-19 jab in the US or anywhere in Europe or 17 other countries.

The diplomats and health officials of the two governments have been in touch over the past couple of weeks to address the British Government’s concerns over some aspects of the certificates issued through the CoWIN app to people vaccinated with the Covishield Covid-19 vaccines. The Government of India made arrangements for the certificates to show full dates of birth of the vaccinated beneficiaries and thus addressed one of London's concerns.