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Covishield Approved In UK but Not the CoWin Certificate; Indians Still Need To Quarantine.

The United Kingdom formally recognized Serum Institute of India (SII) manufactured COVID-19 vaccine Covishield a day after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar raised the issue of non-recognition of the vaccine. However, the CoWin certificates have not been approved. This means that Indian travelers will continue to be treated as “unvaccinated” and will still have to take a pre-departure RT-PCR test, further RT-PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 of arrival, and self-isolate at their destination address for 10 days after entry.

The announcement which was made on Wednesday did not include any change in India’s position in the ‘Amber List’, while the U.K. has cleared 18 countries for the ‘Green List’.

Meanwhile External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met his British counterpart Liz Truss in New York on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly and urged the U.K. to address the issue around the status of Covishield and the requirement of quarantine for 10 days in case of Indian travelers.

The U.K. High Commission officials said they were still in discussion over vaccination certification with the Government of India, indicating that a final decision on whether to include India in the list of recognized vaccine administrators has not yet been made.

Alex Ellis, the British High Commissioner to India, said: “We are clear Covishield is not a problem. The UK is open to travel and we are already seeing a lot of people going from India to the UK…We want to make the process of travelling as easy as possible… We have been having detailed technical discussions regarding certification, with the builders of the CoWin app and the NHS app.”

Meanwhile a British High Commission spokesperson 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.”

Dr R S Sharma, the CEO, National Health Authority (NHA), which has designed the CoWin, told The Indian Express they have not received “any official communication” from the UK government. “I am not aware of any concern being raised,” Sharma said, adding that while he had been approached by the British High Commission saying ” the NHS was interested in knowing about CoWin”, no concerns had been raised in the two meetings held.

“We had meetings on September 16 and September 21. They explained their system and we explained our system. They sent a message that technical discussions have been completed and to their satisfaction. There were no concerns,” Sharma said.

He added, “There can be no concern because our product is as perfect as it can be. It is QR code-based and absolutely verifiable. Its authenticity can be verified; its integrity can be verified.”

Sharma further said India’s vaccination certificate was WHO-compliant, except on the minor issue of providing complete details of birth. “We don’t collect things that are not relevant. We only collect the year of birth, because the passport already has the date of birth.” Sharma also added that the CoWin platform allows travelers to enter complete details for the purpose of international travel.


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