UK gives recognition to Covishield, says working to resolve vaccine certification issue
Covishield is a licensed product of UK's AstraZeneca that is manufactured in India
Following widespread criticism in India, the United Kingdom on Wednesday said that Covishield, a formulation of Oxford's AstraZeneca vaccine, would be a recognised vaccine in the country.
The announcement came a day after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar took up the matter strongly with UK's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss during a meeting in New York on Tuesday.
He had urged an early resolution of the quarantine issue in "mutual interest".
There is, however, no clarity yet on whether Indians vaccinated with both doses of Covishield will be exempt from quarantine or not.
The revised UK travel guideline is silent on India's vaccine certificate. The British High Commission in India said it was working on the certification aspect.
The revised travel advisory for the UK said one would qualify as fully vaccinated if
vaccinated either with a full course of the 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).
Formulations of the 4 listed vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, qualify as approved vaccines, the revised travel advisory issued by UK 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," a spokesperson of the British High Commission said on Wednesday.
“The UK is committed to opening up international travel again as soon as is practicable and this announcement is a further step to enable people to travel more freely again, in a safe and sustainable way, while protecting public health," the spokesperson said about the updated travel advisory.
Referring to discussions on the issue betwen Jaishankar and Truss, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla had said that India had received assurances that the issue would be resolved.
New travel rules that were to come into force from October 4 had meant that Indian nationals would be considered as unvaccinated even if they had received both doses of Covishield, the local variant of Britain’s AstraZeneca vaccine.
They would have to quarantine for 10 days, the rules had said.
Responding to a query during a media briefing on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary
Shringla had said that Covishield is a licensed product of a UK company that is manufactured in India.
He pointed out that five million doses of the vaccine have even been supplied to Britain at the request of the UK government.
Pointing out that non-recognition of Covishield was a discriminatory policy, he said it would impact Indian citizens travelling to the UK.