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UK envoy holds discussion over COVID vaccine certification with National Health Authority CEO

News Agencies | Updated on: 23 September 2021, 17:52 IST
British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis (File Photo)

Amid concerns in India about UK's new travel rules, British High Commissioner Alex Ellis on Thursday held discussions with National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma and said neither side raised concerns about each other's COVID-19 certification process.

Ellis said the "excellent discussions" were an important step forward in "our joint aim to facilitate travel and fully protect the public health of UK and India".

"Excellent technical discussions with @rssharma3 @AyushmanNHA. Neither side raised technical concerns with each other's certification process. An important step forward in our joint aim to facilitate travel and fully protect public health of UK and India," Ellis said in a Tweet.

Ellis had said on Wednesday that Covishield vaccine is not a problem and detailed technical discussions are being held regarding certification of COVID-19 vaccine with the builders of CoWIN app and NHS app.

"We're clear Covishield is not a problem. The UK is open to travel and we're already seeing a lot of people going from India to the UK, be it tourists, business people or students. Over 62,500 student visas have been issued in the year ending June 2021, which is an increase of almost 30 per cent as compared to the previous year," Ellis had said in a statement.

CoWIN is the technological backbone driving vaccination in India and encompasses all constituents of the vaccination process. From validation of the supply of authentic vaccines, registration and certification of citizens, the entire value chain is administered through the CoWIN platform.

There has been confusion over UK's vaccine recognition process for Indian travellers.

Even though the new rules state that AstraZeneca Covishield is among vaccines that qualify as approved, India is not yet on the list of 17 countries mentioned.

The 'changes to international travel rules' by the United Kingdom state that formulations of the four listed vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, qualify as approved vaccines.

The new UK rules also state that travellers will also qualify as fully vaccinated if they have taken full course of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines from a relevant public health body in Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan or the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Covishield, which has been developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, is manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

India had said on Tuesday that it will be within its rights to take reciprocal measures against UK's "discriminatory" move to recognise AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine but not Covishield if the issue is not satisfactorily resolved.

The new rules will come into effect from October 4.


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First published: 23 September 2021, 17:47 IST