Clearing its stance on Covishield, the UK government has maintained that the key issue is vaccine certification and not the vaccine.
The British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis said talks are on between both sides to mutually resolve the matter. "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," Ellis stated.
He further stated that India and the UK "have been having detailed technical discussions regarding certification, with the builders of the CoWIN app and the NHS app, about both apps."
"They're happening at a rapid pace, to ensure that both countries mutually recognise the vaccine certificates issued by each other," Ellis added.
The UK High Commissioner to India informed that more than 62,500 student visas have been issued "in the year ending June 2021", a jump of almost 30% as compared to the previous year.
"We want to make the process of travelling as easy as possible," he added.
The UK government on Wednesday issued an updated international travel advisory to include AstraZeneca Covishield among the eligible COVID-19 vaccine formulations but kept India out of the 18 countries on an approved vaccinations list, requiring Indians to follow rules set out for "non-vaccinated" travellers.
Despite the inclusion of Covishield, Indian travellers are not exempt from the quarantine rules under the UK's new international travel norms that will come into force from October 4, with the British officials in New Delhi maintaining that the main issue is vaccine certification and not the vaccine and that both India and the UK are holding talks to mutually resolve the matter.
Meanwhile, there is no official reaction from India on the inclusion of Covishield to the approved list of vaccines by the UK.
According to the UK rules, Indian travellers who have received both doses of the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be considered unvaccinated and will have to undergo self-isolation for 10 days.
Developed by researchers at the University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca, Covishield is one of the two anti-COVID vaccines used by India - Bharat Biotech's Covaxin being the other -in its vaccination drive across the country.
From October 4, travellers from 18 additional countries with eligible vaccines, including Australia, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, will fall under the UK's list of recognised jabs of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines. The UK's Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said this list is reviewed fortnightly.
The Indian government has said it is working with several countries to recognise India's vaccine certification on a mutual reciprocal basis.
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