National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma on Wednesday said he was not aware of any concerns being raised by the UK about India’s COVID vaccine certification and stressed that the Co-WIN system is WHO-compliant.
Indian travellers vaccinated with two doses of Covishield will still have to undergo 10 days of quarantine in the UK even after the vaccine was approved under the revised guidelines for travel on Wednesday.
British officials suggested the main issue is COVID vaccine certification and not the Covishield vaccine and that both India and the UK are holding talks to mutually resolve the matter.
“I am not aware of any concerns being raised by the UK. The British High Commissioner met me on September 2 and wanted to know details about the Co-WIN system.
“So we connected their technical team with our technical teams that had two rounds of discussion, with the second one being just yesterday. They have conveyed to us there is no need for any further discussion as all information has been exchanged between the two parties,” Sharma told PTI.
He further said the Co-WIN system is WHO compliant and that so far they have not received any communication about any concerns from the Ministry of External Affairs or the British High Commission.
Referring to the latest guidelines issued by the UK government that will come into effect on October 4, the UK officials said on Wednesday that London does not have any problem with the Covishield vaccine but there are certain issues related to vaccine certification in India.
They said the UK is engaging with the government of India to explore how it could expand its recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India.
Quoting new guidelines, the officials said Indian travellers to the UK must follow the “non-vaccinated rules” set out by the authorities.
India had on Tuesday warned of “reciprocal measures” if the UK does not address its concerns over the new travel rules relating to COVID-19 vaccine certification with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla describing these norms as “discriminatory”.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also took up the issue of Covishield-vaccinated travellers being required to quarantine in the UK with newly-appointed British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss at a meeting in New York on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the UK government added Covishield, the Indian-manufactured Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, to an updated international travel advisory.
Asked whether the problem is with India’s vaccine certification, British High Commissioner Alex Ellis said on Wednesday that the UK government is trying to understand how the Indian COVID vaccine app works and that it is a two-way process.
He said the UK government is letting India know how its COVID app functions, adding both sides are going through a normal technical process to resolve any issue.
“This is happening at an extraordinary speed,” he said
“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,” a spokesperson in the British High Commission said.
“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 official said.