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May impose reciprocal measures if UK doesn't recognize Covishield : Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla

India has called the UK's decision not to recognize the Covishield vaccine as 'discriminatory policy' which affects Indian citizens travelling to the country. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has raised this issue with UK government, Shringla said. Ironically, India has supplied 5 million Covishield doses to the UK till now.

September 21, 2021 / 06:35 PM IST
(Representative image: Reuters)

(Representative image: Reuters)

India has hinted that it may resort to imposing reciprocal measures against the United Kingdom, if it doesn't recognize the Covishield vaccine.

The non-recognition of Covishield is a 'discriminatory' policy and affects Indians travelling to the United Kingdom, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on 21 September.

"As we go along, we will have to see how it goes, but if we don't get satisfaction, we would be within our rights to impose reciprocal measures," Shringla said.

From October 4 onwards, the UK will implement new travel rules that has dropped the 3-tier red, amber and green list of nations in favour of just a single red list of countries. However, the main benefits of the move - easier travel -will not be available to Indians since the vast majority of them have been vaccinated with Covishield, which is not yet recognized by the UK.

Discriminatory rules 

As a result, the UK government has said if a person has been vaccinated in Africa, or South America, or countries including UAE, India, Turkey, Jordan, Thailand, Russia, they will be considered unvaccinated and will have to follow quarantine rules.

So, even if they are vaccinated, Indians will have to undergo a pre-departure Covid-19 test within the three days before travelling, book and pay for day two and day eight Covid-19 tests to be taken after arrival in the UK, and quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days.

 They also have to complete their passenger locator form any time in the 48 hours before arriving into UK.

 Issue raised 

"The external Affairs Minister has raised this issue strongly with his British counterpart. I'm told that certain assurances will be given that this issue will be resorted," Shringla said. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is currently in the United States attending the session of the United Nations General Assembly, which resumed today.

"Covishield is a licensed product of an UK company, manufactured in India, of which we have supplied 5 million doses to the UK, at the request of the Government of the UK. We understand that it has been used in the National Health System of the UK as well," Shringla said.

Ironically, the vaccine was developed in the United Kingdom by the Oxford University and British-Swedish pharma major AstraZeneca. In fact, the name Covishield is just a licensed trademark to be used for the vaccine in India.

India has also offered few partner countries the option of mutual recognition of vaccine certification.

After the controversy broke out, the British High Commission had been quick to clarify that it was in talks with India to expand recognition of vaious Covid-19 vaccines.
Subhayan Chakraborty has been regularly reporting on international trade, diplomacy and foreign policy, for the past 6 years. He has also extensively covered evolving industry and government issues. He was earlier with Business Standard newspaper.

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