The United Kingdom on Wednesday revised its travel policy to include Serum Institute of India’s Covishield to its list of approved coronavirus vaccines. However, Indians travelling to the country will still have to quarantine for 10 days, NDTV reported.
The new rules will be effective from October 4.
The guidelines had stated that people inoculated against the coronavirus in Africa and South America, and in some other countries, including India, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Jordan, Thailand and Russia will be considered unvaccinated.
British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis clarified that Covishield “is not a problem”, ANI reported. “We’ve been having detailed technical discussions regarding certification, with the builders of CoWIN app and NHS app, about both apps,” he added. “They’re happening at a rapid pace, to ensure that both countries mutually recognise the vaccine certificates issued by each other.”
Ellis said that the UK “is open to travel” and a lot of people from India have been travelling to the country, including tourists, businesspersons and students.
“We are delighted that Covishield is recognised as a vaccine equivalent to AstraZeneca on the official [UK government] website,” Serum Institute of India Adar Poonawalla Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla told NDTV about the change in the UK’s stance. “However, the matter for travel and quarantine is not resolved and all those looking to travel to the UK should carefully follow official entry guidelines.”
The 10-day mandatory quarantine has not been done away with as the British government reportedly has problems with India’s vaccine certification. In a tweet on Tuesday, Union Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had said that he had discussed the matter with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
On Wednesday, RS Sharma, the chief executive officer of the National Health Authority, told NDTV that there were no problems with the Covid-19 certification provided by the government’s CoWIN portal.
“The system is entirely WHO [World Health Organization] compliant,” Sharma said. “We continue to have discussions with the International Civil Aviation Organisation as well.”
Sharma added said that the UK high commissioner had a meeting with him on September 2 to understand the technical aspects of the CoWin system.
“A resource has been allocated to them for this purpose and two further conversations have happened with their team,” Sharma told NDTV. “These were technical-level conversations.”
A statement issued by the UK High Commission on Tuesday mentioned that the British government was “working with India to expand recognition of vaccine certification”.