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Industry says UK’s non-recognition of Indian vaccine certificates ‘unfair’

India is the leading vaccine manufacturer for the world. Not recognising India's vaccine certificate is not acceptable, Dr Alok Roy, Chair of FICCI Health Services Committee, said. India’s digital certification is far more reliable than other countries’ manual systems, tweeted Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson of Biocon.

September 23, 2021 / 03:18 PM IST
The government spent Rs 9,229.31 crore between March and July to procure 124 crore doses from three manufacturers.

The government spent Rs 9,229.31 crore between March and July to procure 124 crore doses from three manufacturers.

The Indian industry has termed the UK government's non-recognition of vaccine certificates issued by India as unfair, and sought the free flow of travel between both the countries.

The UK, on September 22, included Covishield in the list of vaccines that it recognises, but raised doubts over the Indian COVID-19 vaccination certification process. Due to this, even travellers fully vaccinated with Covishield from India will need to quarantine in the UK on arrival under relaxed rules from October 4.

“Let’s hope CoWin will be accepted to put an end to this needless controversy and enable free flow of travel in both directions!" tweeted Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson of Biocon.

Shaw, in another tweet, said India’s digital certification is far more reliable than other countries’ manual systems. “Is UK trying to make money on PCR tests?" she said.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) called the non-recognition of India's vaccine certificate as "unfair".

"India is the leading vaccine manufacturer for the world. Not recognising India's vaccine certificate is not acceptable," said Dr Alok Roy, Chair of FICCI Health Services Committee and Chairman of Kolkata-based Medica Superspecialty Hospital.

Expect quick resolution

Dr Harsh Mahajan, President of NATHEALTH, expressed confidence that the issue of Indian vaccine certificates will get sorted out before the implementation of new COVID rules for travellers to England on October 4.

NATHEALTH represents all the large service providers of India's private healthcare.

“The very fact that the British High Commissioner had a meeting with RS Sharma, the CEO of the National Health Authority, to understand the certification process augurs well for Indian citizens having unhindered access to the UK," Mahajan said.

"The Indian vaccination and certification process is fool-proof and highly professionally managed, and I am sure that further information exchange between the authorities of the two countries would lead to seamless travel without the need to quarantine fully vaccinated persons," Mahajan added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on countries to ease travel. “We also need to focus on addressing the pandemic’s economic effects. To that end, international travel should be made easier, through mutual recognition of vaccine certificates," a Twitter statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Tuesday had described the decision of the UK government to not recognise Covishield as discriminatory and warned of reciprocal action.

Viswanath Pilla is a business journalist with 14 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, Pilla covers pharma, healthcare and infrastructure sectors for Moneycontrol.
first published: Sep 23, 2021 03:18 pm

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