India slams United Kingdom’s new travel rules as ‘discriminatory,’

Indian foreign minister urges the UK to amend the rule requiring Indians visiting there to quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated.

India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

India slammed the U.K.’s decision to exclude vaccinated Indian travelers from its new travel guidelines, calling it “discriminatory” and warning of reciprocal measures.

The British government will next month allow fully vaccinated travelers from a list of countries to skip quarantine upon arrival — but Indians who are fully vaccinated will still need to be quarantined.

The U.K. last week eased travel restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals from 17 countries and territories, including Japan and Singapore, saying they would not have to stay in quarantine for 10 days after arriving in England.

Travelers at Indira Gandhi International Airport
Travelers at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

India’s Covishield vaccine, developed jointly by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca and manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India, is not recognised by Britain under the new rule despite being identical to the doses given to millions of Britons.

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

Shashi Tharoor, an Indian opposition parliamentarian and author, said on Monday he had cancelled a planned book tour of the UK in protest against the rule.

“It is offensive to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine,” he said.

Another opposition parliamentarian, Jairam Ramesh, said the decision “smacks of racism”.

AstraZeneca is one of the key providers to Britain’s vaccination programme, along with the United States peers Moderna and Pfizer.

The AstraZeneca vaccine makes up most of the doses given to Indians to date. A smaller number have taken an indigenous vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech, which is not in use in the UK.

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