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India warns of reciprocal action if UK doesn’t revoke vax-linked travel curbs

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on September 22, 2021

Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary   -  PTI

'Move discriminatory as Covishield is licensed product of UK firm'

India said it will take reciprocal action against the UK if London doesn’t revoke its “discriminatory” advisory treating travellers from India as ‘unvaccinated’ even if they have got both doses of AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine, and insisting on quarantining them for 10 days, sources have said.

UK Travel guidelines

“If talks with the UK on the quarantine issue doesn’t work out and Covishield doesn’t get due recognition, India will have to do the same thing to travellers from the UK. They will also be compulsorily quarantined on arrival in India irrespective of their vaccination status,” a source tracking the matter told BusinessLine.

Per the new Covid-related travel guidelines issued by the UK on Friday, only people who have taken shots under the approved vaccination programme in the UK, Europe, the US, or Britain’s overseas vaccine programme will be considered fully vaccinated. The vaccines under this programme include those of Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna and Janssen.

UK’s new vax rule sparks anger in India

India is irked that while the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been recognised by the UK, its version produced by Serum Institute in India has been excluded.

Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar has taken up the issue with UK Foreign Minister Liz Truss in a meeting in New York on Monday. “Urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest,” Jaishankar tweeted. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said India will be well within its rights to impose reciprocal measures if the matter is not satisfactorily sorted out.

“I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue would be resolved,” Shringla said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

‘Discriminatory’

Shringla said the UK travel advisory was certainly discriminatory as it refused to recognise Covishield, which was the licensed product of a UK company manufactured in India. India has also supplied five million doses of Covishield to the UK at the request of the government.

The new UK quarantine rules are likely to hit students travelling back to British universities as well as businesses and professionals travelling for work.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor criticised the UK government for adopting “double standards” and said he had pulled out of a debate at Cambridge University and from some book launch events Britain as he had no time to sit in quarantine for ten days.

Published on September 21, 2021

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