This Article is From Sep 21, 2021

On UK Row Over Covishield, Government Warns Of "Reciprocal Measures"

UK Covid travel policy: The UK has said it is engaging with India to resolve the matter of Covishield not being recognised as a legitimate vaccine.

UK travel policy: Covishield was developed by AstraZeneca and researchers at the University of Oxford.

New Delhi:

The UK government's decision to not recognise Covishield as a legitimate anti-Covid vaccine is "discriminatory" and it is within the country's "right to take reciprocal measures" if the matter was not resolved, India's said today. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said this move impacts Indian citizens travelling to that country.

"The non-recogition of Covishield is a discriminating policy and impacts our citizens travelling to the UK. The External Affairs Minister has raised the issue strongly with the new UK foreign secretary. I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue will be resolved," Mr Shringla said at a press conference in New Delhi.

His comments came on a day Foreign Minister S Jaishankar tweeted about discussing the matter with the British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on the sidelines of the high-level 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

The meeting in New York took place the same day as the UK announced new Covid-related travel restrictions that sparked sharp criticism and concerns in India.

According to these new rules, Indian travellers who have received both doses of the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be considered unvaccinated and will have to undergo self-isolation for 10 days.

Covishield was developed by researchers at the University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca. It was one of the two vaccines deployed by India -- Covaxin being the other -- in its nationwide Covid vaccination drive launched this January by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Covaxin was developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research.

The expanded list of countries whose vaccines are recognised in the UK does not include India. It means Indians vaccinated with Covishield would be required to undergo compulsory polymerase chain reaction tests as well as self-isolation.

The new rules that will come into effect next month.

Amid criticism of the new British travel rules, the UK has said it is engaging with India to explore how it could expand the recognition of the COVID-19 vaccine certification issued by Indian authorities, PTI reported.

Asked about the concerns in India, a British High Commission spokesperson in New Delhi told PTI, "We are engaging with the Government of India to explore how we could expand the UK recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India."