UK's decision to not recognize Covishield discriminatory, says India
India on Tuesday issued a sharp reaction to the United Kingdom's decision to not recognize Covishield as a legitimate COVID-19 vaccine. Addressing the media, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla termed the UK government's decision "discriminatory," adding that India might also take "reciprocal measures" if the issue is not resolved. Notably, the UK government's non-recognition of Covishield has sparked intense criticism and concerns in India.
What did Shringla say?
Addressing a press conference, Shringla said, "(We) have raised the discriminatory nature of UK vaccine recognition for AstraZeneca but not Covishield. Discussion is on, but if they do not satisfy us, we would be well within our rights to take reciprocal action."
UK's decision impacts Indian travelers: Shringla
Criticizing the UK government, Shringla said the move impacts Indian citizens traveling to that country. "The non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminating policy and impacts our citizens traveling to the UK." Shringla said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has raised the issue "strongly" with the UK Foreign Secretary. "I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue will be resolved."
Jaishankar tweeted about discussing the issue with British Foreign Secretary
Meanwhile, S Jaishankar tweeted that he has raised the issue with British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss on the sidelines of the high-level 76th session of the UN General Assembly. "Pleased to meet new UK Foreign Secretary...Urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest."
What does the UK's non-recognition of Covishield mean?
For the unversed, a new advisory of the UK says people from India and a few other countries will be considered "unvaccinated" even if they had been given two doses of Covishield—a bioequivalent of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine used in the UK. Other countries include South America, UAE, Turkey, Jordan, Thailand, and Russia etc. Travelers from these countries will have to quarantine for ten days.
Politicians slammed the move as 'racist,' 'offensive'
Slamming the UK government for the decision, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said he has canceled multiple events in that country because of these rules. He further added that it was "offensive to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine." Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also said that the new rule "smacks of racism." "Absolutely bizarre considering Covishield was originally developed in the UK," Ramesh added.
What is Covishield?
Covishield is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by researchers at Oxford University and pharma giant AstraZeneca. It was one of the first two vaccines deployed by India to inoculate its citizens. The vaccine was also approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and has been recognized by 18 European countries as well as the United States. The European countries include France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, etc.