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".
Major change in the guidelines for entry to the UK sees Covishield recognised as a vaccine but India's name STILL doesn't appear in the list of 'accepted' nations with a recognised public health body.Unless the UK accepts CoWin & the process of vax in India, quarantine will apply pic.twitter.com/gQv2RociKV— Vishnu Som (@VishnuNDTV) September 22, 2021
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.
Pleased to meet new UK Foreign Secretary @trussliz.— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 21, 2021
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. pic.twitter.com/pc49NS7zcw
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).