Updated: August 13, 2021 7:58:15 am
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar Thursday said countries would have to develop an understanding over Covid-19 vaccination certificates, instead of particular vaccines, for foreign travel, but acknowledged that it will be a challenge as some nations will push the view that their vaccines are a must.
The minister also expressed hope that the World Health Organisation may give an indication on an approval to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin “maybe in September”.
At a plenary session of the CII Annual Meeting, Jaishankar asserted that the world stood by India during the second wave of Covid as the country had helped others in the first wave.
Asked about the need for global vaccine passports and problems being faced by Indians in foreign travel, he said a lot of this travel impediment is speculation and not fact based. “The US does not insist on your being vaccinated to enter the US, it insists on you being RT-PCR negative before you board a plane. At the moment there is an India issue because they are not allowing people who have been in India for a certain period immediately to go to the US directly,” Jaishankar pointed out. “I would say, still the general practice (for foreign travel) right now is very much testing-based rather than vaccination-based.”
The minister said there were problems when Europe issued a notification granting exemption from quarantine to those inoculated with certain kinds of vaccines. “We took up that issue bilaterally with a whole lot of European countries and made sure that initially Covishield which was excluded is included,” he said.
Jaishankar noted that travel to Europe for those who have taken Covaxin was still a problem, and argued that the regulator has recognised only a limited set of vaccines. So if countries only receive those who have been administered those jabs, very few foreigners will be able to enter any country, he said. “So, the answer to my mind will have to be some kind of understanding over vaccination certificates not on vaccines. There is a precedent for it in yellow fever, there were yellow fever certifications,” he said.
Jaishankar noted that these conversations are beginning to get traction and that the International Civil Aviation Organisation has been having such discussions.
The minister, however, added that he does see the issue as a challenge because some countries “will try to get across a viewpoint that their vaccines are a must”.