The United Kingdom (UK)’s new travel advisory is coming under a lot of fire after it effectively says that Indians or those who have gotten two doses of the AstraZeneca’s Covishield will be considered unvaccinated in the region and thus will have to go through the rules in place for unvaccinated travellers.
Covishield made by the Serum Institute of India (SII), is just another brand name for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine or Vaxzevria made by the Oxford University and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
The only difference seems to be that Covishield has been produced locally in India while Oxford/AstraZeneca was produced in the UK and is the one given to a majority of the population there.
What Is UK Doing?
As per the new rules only travellers that have gotten all the shots for approved vaccines like AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or Moderna (two dose) or Janssen vaccine (single dose) “under an approved vaccination program in the UK, Europe, US or UK vaccine programme overseas” are going to be considered fully vaccinated in the UK.
Along with this, they have also recognised public health body vaccinations in countries including Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan to be fully vaccinated.
This expanded list unfortunately though doesn’t include India whose neither vaccines, Covishield or Covaxin, are recognised by the UK. Travellers thus coming from India with these two vaccines will be considered unvaccinated and should have a negative RT-PCR COVID test before leaving, on arrival and also quarantine for 10 days.
These changes come after the UK decided to scrap its ‘amber’ list and only have ‘green’ and ‘red’ lists for international travellers. Before, India was under the amber list and fully vaccinated travellers were thus excluded from the quarantine period.
Indians and many others are calling out the UK, stating it is racist and discriminatory to not recognise at least the Covishield vaccine which is practically the exact same as the very vaccine given to the UK people.
Are Other Countries Being Racist Too Toward Indian Travellers?
Indian vaccines had made a lot of headlines not long ago when a lot of countries and even the World Health Organization (WHO) had not listed it under their approved lists for quite some time.
That all was rectified quickly though with the Covishield vaccine also getting Emergency Use Approval (EUA) from the WHO. Several European nations like France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, have also approved Covishield for travellers.
Spain has also allowed Indian travellers to enter the country given they have gotten both the doses of the approved vaccine list by the country. These include
- Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty, tozinameran, BNT162b2)
- Moderna (mRNA-1273)
- AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, Vaxzevria, AZD1222)
- Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (Ad26.COV2.S)
- Sinopharm (BBIBP-CorV, Sinopharm-Wuhan)
- Sinovac (CoronaVac, PiCoVacc)
- Covishield (Serum Institute of India)
For the vaccination certificate to be eligible at least 14 days must have passed since the last vaccine dose was received.
As of July 2021, India was placed under ‘Amber’ list for France authorities.
France is also recognising Covidshield/AstraZeneca as an approved vaccine and travellers who have proof of vaccination and a sworn declaration are allowed to travel anywhere in France without any restrictions put on them.
Unvaccinated people on the other hand must only visit under ‘pressing grounds’ and have a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure or a certificate of recovery if contracted COVID that should be dated more than 11 days and less than 6 months. There is also a self-isolation of 7 days required for such people.
As per reports, the Federal Republic of Germany has removed India from their list of countries of high risk from 19th September 2021. Germany now recognises Covishield as an approved vaccine, however, Indians must have their passport number or date of birth on their vaccination certificate since the authorities don’t recognise Aadhar number.
That along with a negative COVID test carried out not more than 72 hours are requirements for Indian travellers.
Besides this there are no restrictions on Indian tourists or need for quarantine, at least for those who are fully vaccinated.
The US has mandated that all adult travellers must be fully vaccinated before boarding the flight to the country. India is now included in the list of countries that have no country-specific restrictions put on them if travellers are fully vaccinated.
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