Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 22
The UK on Wednesday added Covishield to its list of approved Covid vaccines for in-coming travellers but is yet to accept certificates issued from India as valid proof.
London’s visa rules are under constant review and the UK High Commission here said it was in dialogue with the Indian government to break the impasse after Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla threatened reciprocation if the “discriminatory” regime was not reversed.
Basically, the UK has problems with certificates issued by Indian public authorities as well as with the vaccine app Cowin. This means Indians fully vaccinated with Covishield on reaching the UK still have to undergo 10 days of quarantine besides at least two RTPCR tests.
“Formulations of the four listed vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield qualify as approved vaccines from October 4,” said the UK’s Department of Health in a move that left New Delhi still unsatisfied because India is not on the list of 17 countries whose vaccination certificates will be accepted.
What India found galling was that Pune-manufactured Covishield is based on the same Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine whose UK version is accepted. Moreover, India had supplied five lakh doses of this very Pune-made vaccine to the UK when it was battling a sudden spike in infections.
What is of partial relief to Indian travellers is the shifting of India on August 5 to the amber list from the red list which had much more stringent provisions, including compulsory and overpriced quarantine at specified hotels.
South Block, however, feels the issue could be resolved though there was no such announcement after virtual India-UK consular level talks on Wednesday. “The non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminating policy and impacts our citizens travelling to the UK. The External Affairs Minister has raised the issue strongly with the new UK foreign secretary. I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue will be resolved,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had said Tuesday.
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