UK Refuses to Recognize Indian Covid Vaccine Covishield, Restricts Travelers

Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi taking Covid-19 vaccine at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on March 1, 2021. Photo: Narendra Modi / Twitter
Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi taking Covid-19 vaccine at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on March 1, 2021. Photo: Narendra Modi / Twitter

It is largely believed that the Indian vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – are not properly developed and may cause harm to the vaccine recipients instead of protecting them from the virus.

By RMN News Service

While there is a serious debate over the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, the UK has refused to accept travelers who are vaccinated with Covishield — the Indian variant of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured under licence in India. 

As the list of countries whose vaccines are recognized in the UK does not include India, individuals vaccinated with Covishield will continue to face restrictions that apply to the unvaccinated. In other words, people vaccinated with Covishield will be considered unvaccinated in the UK. 

According to a report on September 21 in The Indian Express, India has threatened to retaliate with a “reciprocity principle” if the UK did not review its decision of restricting Covishield-vaccinated travelers.

As the new international travel rules go into effect on October 4, travelers who are not recognized as being fully vaccinated with authorized vaccines and certificates will have to face a slew of restrictions. They are being asked to take a pre-departure RT-PCR test, subsequent RT-PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 after their arrival in Britain, and self-isolate at their given address for 10 days after entry.

A traveler will be considered as fully vaccinated if they have taken the vaccines in countries including Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Under the new rules, the UK has replaced its current ‘traffic light’ system of red, amber, and green countries based on levels of Covid-19 risk with a single ‘red’ list. India is on the amber list currently – which signifies partial risk for India. The rules are expected to stay in place until the end of the year 2021, with a review planned next year.

According to The Indian Express, the majority of Indians — almost 88% (or 720 million), have been administered Covishield produced by Serum Institute of India (SII) and only about 90 million Indians have received Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine, which is awaiting approval in most countries.

Earlier, in June, the European Union (EU) had allowed foreigners vaccinated against Covid-19. But Covishield was not on the EU ‘Green Pass’ list. Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

It is largely believed that the Indian vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – are not properly developed and may cause harm to the vaccine recipients instead of protecting them from the virus.

In order to ensure the safety of vaccines, the Supreme Court of India had issued a notice to the Indian government in August to file its response on a petition seeking transparency of Covid-19 vaccine data. The petition filed by Jacob Pulayil has sought information on the clinical trials conducted for Covid-19 vaccines while there are serious doubts about the efficacy of these vaccines.

As governments are trying to leverage the number of vaccinated individuals to consolidate their political positions, they are spreading misleading information about the effectiveness of vaccines while hiding the adverse effects of vaccines.

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Rakesh Raman