A day after India said that it will consider ‘reciprocal measures’ after the UK refused to recognise the Covishield vaccine for allowing entry into the country, the country has revised its rule regarding the same. However, even though the UK now recognises the Covishield, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University in UK and pharma giant AstraZeneca, and manufactured in India by Serum Institute of India, Indians vaccinated with Covishield and travelling to the UK will still have to undergo the mandatory 10-day quarantine.
According to updated guidelines issued by the UK government for travel to England, the Indian version of the Oxford-AZ vaccine is now considered an approved vaccine in the country. The guideline says, “Formulations of the 4 listed vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, qualify as approved vaccines.” The guidelines will be applicable from 4th October.
However, this does not been people vaccinated with Covishield in India will be considered as ‘vaccinated’ by the UK, because the country has still put India under the amber list. The guideline says that only those people will be considered fully vaccinated if they are vaccinated under an approved vaccination programme in the UK, Europe, USA or UK vaccine programme overseas, or if they received 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).
This means, apart from Europe, the UK recognises vaccinations from only a few countries, and it does not consider vaccinations done in most of Asia, Africa and South America, even when almost all of the countries are using the same vaccines approved by the UK.
Therefore, Indians vaccinated with Covishield will not be considered vaccinated by the UK, and they will have to undergo 10 days of home quarantine after arriving in the UK and have to got Covid-19 tests done on 2nd and 8th day of arrival. This means that Britain does not recognise the world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination program, and it does not recognise the vaccine certificates issued from the CoWIN portal.
The new guidelines that will be applicable from 4th October say that people from countries in the red list will not be allowed in the UK, even if they are fully vaccinated. People from countries in the amber list, which includes India, will have to stay in home quarantine for 10 days, even if fully vaccinated. While there will be no restrictions for people from the green list if they are vaccinated with the approved vaccines.
According to reports, a spokesperson from the British High Commission in India said that the country is engaging with the govt of India for recognition of the CoWIN certificate. “Engaging with the Govt of India to explore how we could expand UK recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India”, the spokesperson said. Reportedly, UK has raised some technical issues regarding the CoWIN certificate, and discussions on the matter are going on between the two countries.
Earlier, the govt of India had raised strong objection to the non-inclusion of Covishield in the list of approved vaccines by the UK, Calling it a discriminating policy. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had said that the External Affairs Minister had raised the issue strongly with the new UK foreign secretary. He had added that India may take reciprocal measures if UK does not recognise a vaccine developed in the UK just because it was made in India under licence.