UK PM Boris Johnson Calls PM Modi; Covid, Recognition of CoWIN Certificate Topped Agenda

As the United Kingdom opens up to Indian travellers jabbed with two doses of Covishield or any other UK-approved Covid-19 vaccine, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday morning.

On a call between the two leaders, topmost was their discussion on priorities regarding the shared fight against coronavirus and the importance of cautiously opening up international travel. The two leaders agreed that UK’s recognition of Indian vaccine certification was a welcome development to that end, according to a press release issued by the UK government.

After a major vaccine certification row between the two countries, the UK on October 7 announced that Indian travellers will not have to quarantine upon arrival to UK if they were either fully vaccinated with Covishield or any other UK-approved Covid vaccine.

The row was mainly after Britain issued a travel advisory, which included Covishield in its list of accepted vaccines, but still required Indians vaccinated with it to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. The UK at the time said it did not accept the CoWIN certificate.

Earlier, UK did not even include Covishield in its list of accepted vaccines, drawing sharp criticism from India, with foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla calling the UK government’s decision “discriminatory”. Following the backlash, UK had on September 22 revised its travel advisory to include Covishield in its list of accepted vaccines but mandated quarantine for Indians. In a tit-for-tat move, last week India also updated its travel advisory stating that British nationals would also have to undergo mandatory 10-day quarantine irrespective of vaccination status.

Apart from Covid-19, the two leaders also discussed the strength of UK-India relationship and welcomed the progress made on the 2030 Roadmap since it was agreed by Johnson and PM Modi in May. This includes trade and defence. The leaders are looking forward to the upcoming visit of UK Carrier Strike Group to India and deepening of UK-India strategic ties.

Johnson underlined the importance of making progress on climate change ahead of and at the upcoming COP26 Summit. He noted that India was already leading the world in renewable technology and expressed his hope that they will commit to a more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution and to achieving Net Zero emissions.

The leaders also talked about the current situation in Afghanistan and agreed on the need for a coordinated international approach to engagement with the Taliban, emphasising the importance of upholding human rights in the country.

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