Resolving Quarantine Issue “In Mutual Interest”: India To UK On Rules Row


Covishield already has an emergency use approval from the World Health Organization

New Delhi:

India on Tuesday said it has in the “mutual interest” of both the nations pushed for early resolution of quarantine issue in the United Kingdom, which has commissioned considerable criticism from all quarters over its non-recognition of people vaccinated in India as “fully vaccinated”.

A new travel advisory by the United Kingdom – which says people from India and a few other countries will be considered “unvaccinated” even after two doses of AstraZeneca’s Covishield (in use globally as Vaxzervria) – and to undergo self-isolation for 10 days has renewed controversy over freedom of international travel during the pandemic.

“Pleased to meet new UK Foreign Secretary @trussliz. Discussed the progress of Roadmap 2030. Appreciated her contribution on the trade side. Exchanged views on developments in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific. Urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar posted on Twitter today.

Earlier on Monday, the UK said it is engaging with India to explore how it could expand the recognition of the COVID-19 vaccine certification issued by Indian authorities. It added it is committed to opening up international travel again “as soon as is practicable”.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said he had cancelled multiple engagements because of the rules – which were announced by the UK government Friday and will come into effect on October 4 – and that it was “offensive to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine”.

Jairam Ramesh, another Congress leader, called the rules “racist”.

“Absolutely bizarre considering Covishield was originally developed in the UK and The Serum Institute, Pune, has supplied to that country too! This smacks of racism,” he tweeted.

The new rules reflect the UK’s decision to scrap its ‘amber’ list from October 4.

India is currently on that list and has not yet been moved to the expanded ‘green’ list – countries whose vaccines are recognised by the UK.

Starting October 4, therefore, passengers not vaccinated under “approved programs in the UK (and UK overseas), Europe or US” must self-quarantine for 10 days, as well as pay for two Covid tests.

They can pay for an early test to be released from quarantine.

The advisory is of particular concern for India, where Covishield is the most widely used vaccine and its non-recognition by the UK (despite its government using the same drug under a different name) will hamper travel plans of students, tourists, businesspeople and others vaccinated in this country.

Covishield already has EUA, or emergency use approval, status from the World Health Organization.

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