After India protests, UK adds Covishield to list of approved vaccines for travel

In its revised guidelines, the UK said formulations of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, including Covishield, would qualify as approved vaccines.

The United Kingdom Wednesday added Covishield to its list of approved Covid-19 vaccines for travel to the country.

In its revised guidelines, the UK said formulations of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, including Covishield, would qualify as approved vaccines. It said a traveller must have had a complete course of the approved vaccine at least 14 days before arriving in England.

The development comes days after India raised strong objections to the non-recognition of Covishield, manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India, by the UK. India called it a “discriminatory policy” that impacted Indian citizens wishing to travel to the UK.

“The non-recognition 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,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had said Tuesday.

UK’s new travel rules come into effect on October 4, 2021. Under the new rules, the UK has replaced its current ‘traffic light’ system of red, amber, and green countries based on levels of Covid-19 risk with a single ‘red’ list. India is currently on the amber list.

Amid the row, a spokesperson for British High Commission in New Delhi told The Indian Express Tuesday, “The UK is committed to opening up international travel again as soon as is practicable and this announcement is a further step to enable people to travel more freely again, in a safe and sustainable way, while protecting public health.

“We are engaging with the Government of India to explore how we could expand UK recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India,” the spokesperson added.

Covishield, the made-in-India variant of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s AZD-1222 formulation, is the predominant vaccine being used in India’s mass immunisation programme against SARS-CoV-2, the Covid-19 virus.

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