UK's New Vaccine Rules 'Discriminatory', India Warns of 'Reciprocal Measures'

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The UK government’s decision to not recognise Covishield is “discriminatory” and impacts the travel of Indians travelling to that country, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said in Delhi today, adding that it is within the country’s “right to take reciprocal measures” if the matter was not resolved.

“The non-recogition of Covishield is a discriminating policy and impacts our citizens travelling to the UK. The External Affairs Minister has raised the issue strongly with the new UK foreign secretary. I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue will be resolved,” Shringla said at a press conference in the capital.

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Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had also urged Britain to remove the rule requiring Indians visiting there to quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated. India’s Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and manufactured in India by Pune-based Serum Institute, is not recognised by Britain under new rules despite being identical to the doses given to millions of Britons.

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The rules, that come into effect next month, have caused anger, with many Indians branding the decision as discriminatory. Britons vaccinated in the United Kingdom with the same Indian-made doses are not required to quarantine.

They could also lead to a retaliation from New Delhi, with Indian government sources saying it was likely to take reciprocal steps if the issue is not quickly resolved.

“Urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest,” Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said in a tweet after a meeting with his British counterpart Liz Truss in New York, where both are attending the United Nations General Assembly.

The British High Commission (embassy) in New Delhi said the United Kingdom was working with India to resolve the issue.

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