India denounces UK’s ‘racist’ travel restrictions

New Delhi, Sep 21 (EFE).- The recent simplification of travel restrictions in the United Kingdom has unleashed anger in India, where the government on Tuesday described it as “discriminatory” while several parliamentarians have termed it as racist.

“The basic issue is that, here’s a vaccine – Covishield – which is a licensed product of a UK company manufactured in India of which we have supplied five million doses to the UK at the request of the government,” Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said at a press conference.

Under its most recent norms, the UK does not recognize vaccinations administered in India, among several other countries, making it obligatory for Indians to undergo a quarantine on entering the European country.

This will include even those who have received both doses of the Covishield vaccine, developed by the Britain’s Oxford University and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, and produced in India by the Serum Institute.

“The non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminating policy and impacts our citizens traveling to the UK,” said Shringla.

The foreign secretary said Indian authorities had raised a formal complaint with the UK, and threatened repercussions.

“If we don’t get satisfaction we would be within our rights to impose reciprocal measures,” he said.

The new UK norms have also led to much criticism from several Indian parliamentarians.

“Absolutely bizarre considering Covishield was originally developed in the UK and The Serum Institute, Pune has supplied to that country too! This smacks of racism,” tweeted opposition parliamentarian Jairam Ramesh of the Indian National Congress.

It is not the first time that the Indian government or its citizens have been outraged by the non-recognition of Covishield.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not given its approval to the vaccine produced by the Serum Institute in India, according to the European Union, as the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume did not make an independent marketing application.

However, just over a dozen European countries such as Spain, France and Germany have recognized Covishield after listening to the complaints of the Indian government on the issue. EFE


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