‘Not because of CoWIN’: RS Sharma on UK quarantine rule for Indians

NHA chairman RS Sharma, who supervises functioning of the CoWIN platform, said a baseless controversy was created by some people around the digital platform in context of the UK travel rule that mandates a 10-day quarantine for flyers from India even if they are fully vaccinated.
National Health Authority chairman RS Sharma, who handles the Cowin vaccination portal said there were absolutely no concerns raised at any point in time by the British side on India’s Covid-19 vaccine certification process. (HT FILE PHOTO.)
National Health Authority chairman RS Sharma, who handles the Cowin vaccination portal said there were absolutely no concerns raised at any point in time by the British side on India’s Covid-19 vaccine certification process. (HT FILE PHOTO.)
Updated on Sep 24, 2021 08:55 PM IST
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India and the United Kingdom are yet to arrive at an agreement on accepting India’s Covid-19 vaccine certification so that vaccinated Indian travellers can skip a 10-day quarantine. India’s National Health Authority (NHA) chairman RS Sharma, who held discussions with UK high commissioner Alex Ellis on Thursday, said there was no problem with the digital platform CoWIN and the UK side hadn’t raised any concerns around it either at his meetings. Edited excerpts:

So there is no problem with CoWIN or the certificate that India gives?

There is none and this is a completely baseless controversy raised by some people.

We saw the exchange of tweets between you and the UK high commissioner (who confirmed that no technical concerns were raised about the certification processes). Can you tell us what concerns were raised at the meeting?

There were absolutely no concerns either before the meeting or during the meeting. The concerns were actually (in) the fertile minds of some of the people who started a controversy where nothing existed.

But why is it then that the UK is treating us like the unvaccinated despite having the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (Covishield)?

That’s a larger issue. I have not interacted or am competent enough to answer that question. The only question I am referring to is that they (the UK) have raised certain concerns about India’s certification process. I just wanted to put on record that they are happy and there are absolutely no concerns raised at any point in time by the British side.

But couldn’t you help us understand where the problem lies?

No, I cannot help you understand because that’s not my mandate. You ask the foreign secretary, you ask the health secretary or someone else. I am just in charge of the CoWIN platform so I will only answer questions about that.

So there is no problem with CoWIN or the certificate that India gives?

There is none and this is a completely baseless controversy raised by some people.

Is the problem that India doesn’t share its Covid data? Or in coordinating data with NHS (United Kingdom National Health Service)?

It is so unfortunate that despite my saying there’s no problem, you continue to persist as if there was a problem. What can I say?

So you are saying it is a country-to-country issue. I wanted to ask you that IMF and airline associations across the world are pushing for a universal vaccine certificate. Do you and India support this?

I am not competent to answer this question. That is being dealt with by the civil aviation ministry and the ministry of external affairs.

There’s nothing that the UK wants clarity on, from us?

Nothing related to the certificate or process on CoWIN.

Finally, did you request the meeting with the UK envoy?

The meeting was to understand each other’s system and a perfect understanding has been arrived at. They have even sent us a mail saying that there is no further information required and there is absolutely no concern. In the proceedings of the meeting, there is not even a single line that says that there is concern from either side.

Did you ask for the meeting after you heard the reports (of concerns around CoWIN)?

No. I didn’t ask for any meeting. Yesterday, he (UK high commissioner) asked for a phone call and we made the call.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021