But Covishield’s exclusion may have been a technical error, with SII’s manufacturing site not originally listed in the documentation for the vaccine’s approval in the UK. This is an oversight that seems to now have been fixed.

India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar also raised the issue with his UK counterpart Liz Truss yesterday (Sept. 21) at the UN General Assembly, hoping for an “early resolution” of the quarantine issue. At the time of this meeting, the UK had not approved Covishield and the Indian government was of the view that acceptance of the vaccine was the only issue.

India’s foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters yesterday that the Indian government had been assured of a resolution on the subject, and threatened “reciprocal measures” otherwise.

Is certification the real problem?

Despite Covishield’s approval, not including India in the list of trusted countries points to the possibility that the certification may be the real bone of contention here.

A flourishing industry now exists in countries like India that sells fake vaccine certificates on the Dark Web and via apps like Telegram, according to a report in The Indian Express newspaper. Fake RT-PCR test results and vaccine certificates have kept Indian travelers on the barred list of several countries like Canada and the US, despite a much lower Covid-19 infection rate.

Indians’ share of UK travel and tourism

Pre-pandemic, in 2019,  roughly 693,000 people from India travelled to the UK, according to national tourism agency Visit Britain. Of these, a third were visiting friends and family, nearly 30% were tourists, and about 25% were traveling for business. For context, the UK had nearly 41 million international visitors that year.

These 41 million inbound travelers spent £28.5 billion ($39 billion) in the UK. Americans were the biggest group, constituting 11% of all travelers to the UK. India, however, was not among the top 10 markets for the UK’s inbound tourism industry in 2019.

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