India has raised a red flag about UK’s “discriminatory” decision to exclude vaccinated Indian travelers from its new travel guidelines. Indians who are fully vaccinated will need to be quarantined for 10 days after arriving in England.
India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla, at a press briefing, said the basic issue is that here is a vaccine Covishield which is a licensed product of a UK company, manufactured in India. “We have supplied five million doses to the United Kingdom, at the request of the government of UK. We understand that this has been used in their national health system,” he said. “Therefore, non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminatory policy and does impact on those of our citizens traveling to the UK.”
India has so far administered more than 825 million vaccine doses in one of the world’s largest inoculation drives. About 15% of the country’s eligible population has received the two doses required to be considered fully vaccinated.
According to UK’s new travel guidelines, Indian travelers will be required to quarantine after arriving in England and must undergo three rounds of testing, regardless of their vaccination status. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs Minister, has raised this issue “strongly” with the UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Jaishankar tweeted that during his meeting with Truss, in New York, he urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest.
Indian lawmaker, Jairam Ramesh described the UK’s new travel guidelines as “smacks of racism”. “We will have to see how it goes, but if we don’t get satisfaction, we would be within our rights to impose reciprocal measures,” Shringla said. He didn’t elaborate what the measures would be.
The British High Commission in New Delhi said the UK was working with India to resolve this issue. “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,” a spokesperson said.