Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has pulled out of several planned engagements in the United Kingdom in protest against the COVID-19 new rules put in place by the British government that require even fully vaccinated Indians to undergo 10 days of quarantine on arrival.
Taking to Twitter, Tharoor complained that "it is offensive to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine."
"Because of this I have pulled out of a debate at the @cambridgeunion & out of launch events for the UK edition of my book #TheBattleOfBelonging (published there as #TheStruggleForIndiasSoul). It is offensive to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine. The Brits are reviewing!" Congress MP tweeted.
Currently, people vaccinated in India and in other countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Thailand, Russia are considered "unvaccinated" and have to follow the 10-day quarantine and test rule.
Britain’s decision is considered odd because most Indians have got doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine which is being produced by the Serum Institute of India in collaboration with the UK pharma giant under the Covishield brand. The vaccine has been approved by the WHO.
India has also exported the vaccine to other countries and it is recognised by most European Union countries including Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands. Switzerland, which is not an EU member, also accepts Covishield as an approved vaccine. Fully vaccinated Indians are treated on a par with citizens of other countries such as the USA and do not have to undergo quarantine.
The Indian government is reported to be taking up the issue with the UK. Interestingly British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also said in the past that Covishield should be recognised as it is the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.
The issue had come up earlier and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had made it clear that India would also not recognise vaccine certificates of countries that do not accept the Indian-made vaccine approved by the WHO.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has so far only approved Covid vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, US pharma majors Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, China's Sinopharm and Oxford-AstraZeneca for emergency use.
16 European countries now open doors to those fully vaccinated with Covishield
Jaishankar takes up Covishield recognition issue with EU at meeting in Italy