UK welcomes more UAE travellers by adding Sinopharm and Covaxin to approved vaccines list

People double dosed with Sinovac, Sinopharm and Covaxin can travel quarantine-free to the UK from November 22

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The UK said it will recognise all Covid-19 vaccines on the World Health Organisation's emergency use list this month.

The country will add China's Sinovac, Sinopharm and India's Covaxin to approved vaccines for inbound travellers, the Department for Transport said.

The travel rules are being further simplified as all people under the age of 18 will be treated as fully vaccinated and will be able to enter England without isolating on arrival.

The changes, which come into force from November 22, will benefit fully vaccinated people from countries such as the UAE, Malaysia and India.

A large percentage of people in the UAE have received at least two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, with most taking a third booster shot of either Sinopharm or Pfizer BioNTech.

This, however, was not enough to allow quarantine-free travel to the UK, because the country required people to be fully vaccinated with two shots of Pfizer BioNTech.

Sinopharm and Sinovac shots account for almost half of the 7.3 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered around the world.

The World Health Organisation approved Covaxin for emergency use on November 3. The vaccine involves two doses taken four weeks apart.

Around 12 per cent of the billion vaccinations administered in India used Covaxin.

Bharat Biotech, which makes the inoculation, has published data suggesting it offers 78 per cent efficacy.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "As we continue to recover from the pandemic and expand our recognition of international vaccines, today’s announcements mark the next step in our restart of international travel.

"By also simplifying the rules for international travel for all under-18s coming to England, we’re bringing further good news for families looking to unite with loved ones, and another great boost for the travel sector."

The vaccines now recognised by the UK are Pfizer BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca (including Covishield), Moderna and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson), and WHO EUL, including Sinovac, Sinopharm Beijing and Covaxin.

Passengers who have been fully vaccinated and have received their vaccine certificate from one of over 135 approved countries and territories are are not required to take a pre-departure test, day 8 test or self-isolate upon arrival. Instead, passengers will just need to pay for a lateral flow test to take before the end of their second day, post-arrival.

The UK's red list for the most severe travel restrictions remains in place, although there a currently no countries on the list. The final seven countries were removed last month.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Today’s announcement is another step forward for the travel industry, businesses and for family and friends wanting to reunite or go abroad.

"The red list and quarantine system remain vital in protecting our borders and as we’ve said we will not hesitate to take action by adding countries to the red list if necessary."

On Monday, two passenger jets set off from London to New York on Monday in a symbolic resumption of transatlantic travel after the US reopened its borders to vaccinated tourists.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic staged a simultaneous take-off to mark the restart after more than 18 months of travel restrictions.

The two aircraft left London’s Heathrow Airport from parallel runways, destined for John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on what is usually one of the world’s busiest air corridors. British Airways made $1 billion a year linking the two hubs before the onset of Covid-19.

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Updated: November 09, 2021, 1:40 PM