UK eases travel restrictions for vaccinated Indians

 Friday, October 8, 2021 



The UK has decided to ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated Indians who received a UK-approved jab, starting October 11. Travellers will no longer have to self-isolate or take a COVID test when they arrive in the UK. The latest move comes as a relief to thousands of Indians who travel to the UK for work, studies and leisure.

The newst change in guidelines came days after India imposed reciprocal measures on British nationals in retaliation for UK travel curbs on Indian citizens. Both countries have been facing trouble over Covishield, the Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine that is identical to the doses given to millions of Britons.

The UK previously refused to recognise Covishield hence fully vaccinated Indian travellers had to isolate for 10 days and take Covid-19 tests at their own expense before they were allowed to go out of quarantine. After the country’s outrage in against the decision calling it “a discriminatory rule”, UK designated Covishield an approved vaccine last month.

However, it did not add India to its exempt-from-quarantine list and the travel restrictions continued. But vaccinated travellers to the UK from many other countries were not facing the same restrictions. This led to a backlash from Delhi, which imposed a mandatory quarantine for fully vaccinated British nationals travelling to India last week.

Britain’s decision to ease travel restrictions for Indians comes at a time when India’s daily cases have fallen from a peak of 400,000 around May to nearly 21,000 this week. About 26% of India’s eligible population has been fully vaccinated and nearly 70% have received at least one dose.

Covishield, locally produced by the Serum Institute of India, has been the main vaccine, with some 819 million doses administered so far. Most others have received Covaxin, an Indian-made government-backed jab,  which is yet to be approved by WHO.

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