- Fully vaccinated visitors from India still required to go to 10-day COVID-19 quarantine.
- The Covishield vaccine was developed jointly by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and is manufactured by Serum Institute of India.
- Britons vaccinated in the UK with the same Indian-made jabs are not required to quarantine.
The United Kingdom has announced that it will relax COVID-19 pandemic curbs for fully vaccinated foreign visitors starting early next month.
But the list of countries with approved vaccines does not include India, despite the country using a locally made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine developed in the UK, and it causes some political unease and threats of reciprocal retaliation from Indian officials.
The Covishield vaccine, developed jointly by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca and manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India, is not recognized by the United Kingdom under the new rule despite being technically identical to the doses given to millions of Britons.
The AstraZeneca vaccine makes up most of the doses given to Indians to date. A smaller number have taken an indigenous vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech, which is not in use in the UK.
India’s foreign minister has urged the British government authorities for an “early resolution of quarantine issue” with Indians visiting the United Kingdom still being required to quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated.
New entry rules, that come into effect in October, have angered many Indians, who branded the decision as discriminatory. Britons vaccinated in the UK with the same Indian-made jabs are not required to quarantine.
“Urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest,” Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said in a tweet today after a meeting with his British counterpart Liz Truss in New York, where both are attending the United Nations General Assembly.
Britain’s move could also lead to retaliation from New Delhi, with an Indian government official saying it was likely to take reciprocal steps if the issue is not quickly resolved.
“The basic issue is that, here’s a vaccine – Covishield – which is a licensed product of a UK company manufactured in India of which we have supplied five million doses to the UK at the request of the government,” India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters in New Delhi.
Calling the non-recognition of Covishield “a discriminatory policy”, he said negotiations were under way with the UK over the new requirements.
“But if we don’t get satisfaction we would be within our rights to impose reciprocal measures.”
The British High Commission in New Delhi said the UK was working with India to resolve the issue.
The rule, that mandates 10 days of self-isolation for travelers arriving from India, also apply to many other countries using Covishield, including most African ones.