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UK to allow quarantine-free travel for passengers vaccinated with India’s Covaxin jab

UK to allow quarantine-free travel for passengers vaccinated with India’s Covaxin jab
Passengers will now only have to take one post-arrival test while quarantine on arrival is abolished

The UK has added India’s homegrown Covaxin to its list of Covid jabs that allow quarantine-free travel for international travellers.

The British government said it will recognise all the vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a move which resulted in the approval of China’s Sinovac, Sinophram jab and India’s Covaxin.

Starting 22 November, all travellers inoculated with the three approved jabs will not have to self-isolate upon arrival or show a pre-departure Covid-19 test. At least one billion doses of the three Covid jabs have been supplied to countries worldwide.

“Instead, they will only be required to take one post-arrival test and a confirmatory free PCR test if they test positive,” the UK government said in its release.

The approval for vaccine made by Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech came after WHO issued an emergency-use listing for Covaxin on 3 November after much delay. The health agency asked for more data last month to approve the jab.

Covaxin was approved in India in January even as it was under the third phase of clinical trials, sparking concerns and criticism among health experts. Bharat Biotech has since published data, confirming 78 per cent efficacy from the jab against Covid-19.

On 4 October, the UK government amended its foreign travel guidance to approve an India-made version of  the AstraZeneca, known as Covishield, after previously refusing to recognise the jab, triggering a firestorm of protest from India.

Covaxin and Covishield are the two major vaccines that are being used in India for inoculation.

Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner to India, called the announcement a “good news for Indian travellers” in a tweet.

“More good news for Indian travellers to the UK. From 22 November travellers fully vaccinated with a COVID19 vaccine recognised by WHO for Emergency Use Listing, including Covaxin, will not have to self-isolate; so joining those fully vaccinated with Covishield,” Mr Ellis said.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps called it “the next step in our restart of international travel” as the country continued to recover from the pandemic.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid: “Today’s announcement is another step forward for the travel industry, businesses and for family and friends wanting to reunite or go abroad.”

Mr Javid added that the “red list and quarantine system remain vital” in protecting the borders and the government will not hesitate in taking action by adding countries to the red list if necessary.