No Problem With Vaccine Certificate: Top Official After UK Raises Concern

The UK's updated advisory now says: "Formulations of the four listed (in the UK) vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield... qualify as approved vaccines"

No Problem With Vaccine Certificate: Top Official After UK Raises Concern

Covishield is, at this time, India's most widely used COVID-19 vaccine (File)

New Delhi:

There are no issues with the CoWin app or the vaccine certification process, National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma said today, after a revised UK advisory accepted Covishield as a valid vaccine but said double-jabbed Indians still have to quarantine because of "vaccination certification issues".

"There are no issues on CoWin with certification... system is entirely WHO compliant. We continue to have discussions with International Civil Aviation Organization. The UK High Commissioner visited me on September 2. They wanted to understand the system... technical aspects," Dr Sharma told NDTV.

"A resource has been allocated and two further conversations have happened with their team. These were technical-level conversations," he explained.

The British High Commission said: "We are engaging with Government of India to explore how we can expand UK recognition of certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India."

The UK's updated travel advisory now says: "Formulations of the four listed (i.e., recognised in the UK) vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria... qualify as approved vaccines".

That section has been welcomed by Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla, whose facility manufactures (and then ships back to the UK) Covishield.

Mr Poonawalla told NDTV he is "delighted" with the recognition but warned "the matter for travel and quarantine is not resolved"

India - on the UK's 'amber' list of Covid- affected countries - still does not figure in a list of nations from where people arriving in the UK can avoid a 10-day quarantine.

Specifically, the guidelines for "not fully vaccinated" people arriving from 'amber'-listed countries continue to require "quarantine at home... for 10 days" and at least two paid COVID-19 tests.

The UK's new rules regarding vaccine certification come into effect on October 4, at which time the 'amber' list will be scrapped, and all countries on that list will be regarded as being on the 'red' list. And people from 'red' list countries - regardless of vaccination status - must go into quarantine.

The UK's seeming reluctance to accept Covishield - used there as Vaxzervria - and insistence that even people with two shots face quarantine - triggered a 'tit-for-tat threat from India yesterday.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla called the decision "discriminatory" and said that India reserved the "right to take reciprocal measures" if the matter remains unresolved.

His comments came as Foreign Minister S Jaishankar tweeted about discussing the matter with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, while on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

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

In July there was controversy over its acceptance by the EU as well. The EMA approved Vaxzervria but not Covishield, prompting the India to warn that it would rescind reciprocal authorisation.

Similar concerns were flagged in June by the Africa CDC (Africa Centres for Disease Control).