Officials from India and the UK on Thursday announced progress in recognising each other's vaccine certificates as the two sides held talks amid controversy over Britain needing double-vaccinated Indians to quarantine because of "vaccination certification issues".
The British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis tweeted:
Excellent technical discussions with @rssharma3@AyushmanNHA. Neither side raised technical concerns with each other's certification process. An important step forward in our joint aim to facilitate travel and fully protect public health of UK and India.— Alex Ellis (@AlexWEllis) September 23, 2021
His statement was welcomed by Dr RS Sharma, CEO of India's National Health Authority.
Echoing his excellency @AlexWEllis's views, this will be instrumental in resuming socio-economic activities between India and UK. We also look forward to deepening ties between @AyushmanNHA and @NHSX, as we collaborate to build a digital continuum of healthcare services.— Dr. RS Sharma (@rssharma3) September 23, 2021
The talks came a day after NDTV reported that the UK was citing issues with India's digital vaccine certification platform CoWIN to maintain quarantine rules for vaccinated Indians even though Covishield was now an approved vaccine on the UK's revised guidelines for travel.
The move had prompted a furious India warning of "reciprocal measures".
Speaking to NDTV on Wednesday, Mr Ellis had said, "India is still on the Amber category because there are still some COVID-19 cases in India. Most other nations on the list that do not need any quarantine are in the green category, where the number of active cases is very low in comparison."
"While Covishield is approved, the UK government is still trying to understand how the Indian Covid vaccine app works. And let me assure you, that this is a two-way process. We are also letting India know how the UK government Covid app works. Once we understand this better and know that it is absolutely safe, we can go ahead and remove the quarantine for Indian travellers," he said.
Certification after Covid jabs in India is a centralised national system managed through the CoWIN app and portal and there are "no issues" with the platform, RS Sharma told NDTV amid the escalating row.
"The system is entirely WHO (World Health Organisation) compliant. We continue to have discussions with the International Civil Aviation Organisation as well. The UK High Commissioner visited me on September 2. They wanted to understand the CoWIN system, the technical aspects. A resource has been allocated to them for this purpose and two further conversations have happened with their team. These were technical-level conversations," Dr Sharma said.