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CoWIN adheres to WHO specifications, says COVID-19 vaccine panel chief

The immigration area at the international airport in New Delhi.  

No concern whatsoever has been expressed by the government of the United Kingdom on the certification process of CoWIN, R.S. Sharma, chairman of the empowered group for COVID-19 vaccine administration, told The Hindu on Thursday.

He called reports that the U.K. had agreed to recognise India-made Covishield (COVID vaccine) and add it to the list of recognised vaccines, but refused to recognise vaccine certificate issued by India for Indian travellers a “baseless controversy’’.

“There has been no communication from U.K. about COVID vaccination certificate process. The recent talks were about U.K.’s interest in CoWIN platform. The technical teams of both the countries have been in touch since early September,” he said.

CoWIN was an open source platform, Dr. Sharma said. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had been in talks with countries that were interested in this platform. “Talks are at various stages and I will not be able to give specific details. But yes, several countries have shown an interest in the platform,” he added.

WHO standardisation

Responding to a query whether the Indian COVID-19 vaccination certificate conformed to the World Health Organisation (WHO) specifications, he said India was adhering to the specifications.

“We have looked at our certificate while keeping in mind the WHO standardisation. There is a minor technical rectification where India uses year of birth, while WHO prescribes date of birth. For those wanting this change for travel needs, the same can be rectified,” said Dr. Sharma.

“No concerns raised”

On Wednesday, U.K. High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis had said that his country had no issues with Covishield vaccine, but the question was on certification.

On Thursday he tweeted: “Excellent technical discussions with Dr. R.S. Sharma. Neither side raised technical concerns with each other’s certification process. An important step forward in our joint aim to facilitate travel and fully protect the public health of the U.K. and India.”

Dr. Sharma responded to the tweet. “Echoing his excellency @AlexWEllis’s views, this will be instrumental in resuming socio-economic activities between India and UK. We also look forward to deepening ties between @AyushmanNHA and @NHSX, as we collaborate to build a digital continuum of healthcare services.”


Meanwhile, responding to a query on the controversy, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Thursday at a press conference that India and U.K. officials were in a dialogue. “And we are hopeful that the issue will be resolved soon. We stand by MEA’s position on the issue. This is discriminatory and we have the right of reciprocity,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 9:23:11 PM |

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