UK recognises COVID jab after India outcry

Published on : Thursday, September 23, 2021

astrazeneca_covishield

The UK government has amended its foreign travel guidance to clarify that the Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine is an approved jab.

But it is not clear whether people from India can travel to the UK without having to self-isolate for 10 days.

The UK’s refusal to recognise Covishield had triggered a firestorm of protests in India.

With more than 721 million doses administered so far, Covishield is India’s primary vaccine.

On Tuesday, India described the rule as “discriminatory” and asked the UK to stop requiring fully-vaccinated Indians to self-isolate on arrival.

At present, India is not listed as a country where people are recognised as fully vaccinated even if they’ve had both doses of an approved jab.

So, Indians travelling to Britain have to self-isolate as well as book and take COVID-19 tests before they are allowed to move freely.

Last week, the UK announced new rules which will come into effect on 4 October.

The rule mandates that travellers from a number of countries arriving in England do not have to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated.

India was not included in that list either.

Prominent Indians called the rule “highly discriminatory”, “racist” and “asinine”, among other things.

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had taken up the matter “strongly” as stated by India’s foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

It is a discriminatory policy and does impact our citizens travelling to the UK, Mr Shringla told reporters.

He had warned that India might take “reciprocal measures” if the UK did not address India’s concerns.

Such measures generally include India imposing similar restrictions on those arriving from Britain.

British travellers to India are thermally screened for fever on arrival, and provide a negative COVID-19 test. They do not need to quarantine.

A leading MP from the main opposition Congress party, Jairam Ramesh, had tweeted that the “bizarre” decision smacked of racism.

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