KARACHI: The United Kingdom’s Covid-19 rules will change on Monday, removing the ‘Amber List’ designation completely and allowing anyone vaccinated anywhere by one of the four vaccines approved by London to travel to the UK without quarantine or self-isolation. Furthermore, Pakistan’s vaccine certificates will be accepted by the UK, though Chinese vaccines will still not be.
This was confirmed by the UK High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dr Christian Turner, to Dawn.
The UK will accept vaccinations by Astra-Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines from all travellers from around the world who are not from the red-list countries. Pakistan was taken off the red list on Sept 22 after being on the no-travel list for five months. However, earlier information had suggested that the UK would still not accept any vaccinations done in Pakistan, including by the UK-approved list of vaccines, which had meant Pakistanis would still need to self-isolate for up to 10 days. This will now change.
British diplomat praises the National Command and Control Centre for doing a good job of ‘navigating the Covid-19 pandemic’
“I am just going through the process of formally allowing the two bureaucracies to recognise each other’s vaccination certificates and that may take a couple more days next week,” Dr Turner said.
“But basically, in October, you’d be able to turn up in London and, if you’ve had those vaccines, show your Nadra certificate and be absolutely fine. It doesn’t matter where it’s administered — you have very good certificates here — you show that and you’d be fine... It’ll be a big shift and everything will be a lot better.”
The UK High Commissioner also acknowledged that Pakistan being on the red list had been “enormously frustrating” since it had blocked contacts and linkages between the people of the two countries and “everyone suffered”.
But he said there had been “a genuine scientific disagreement” between the public health bodies of the two countries and “a concern about Pakistan’s ability to track variants here”.
In particular, he said, the UK was worried about the beta variant, which had originated in South Africa, and which “can undermine the Astra-Zeneca vaccine”.
“If [the] beta [variant] got seeded back into our communities, particularly the very large and important community that is connected [between the UK and Pakistan] and travelling back and forth, we would have had a very large public health problem that would have undermined our vaccine process. And we engineered an enormously deep discussion between the two public health science teams, led by Dr Faisal [Sultan] on your side, to really understand what we knew about beta and what we didn’t and that gave us the confidence to change the red list.”
He also praised Dr Sultan, the National Command and Control Centre and the health team “who have done a most extraordinary good job of navigating the pandemic”.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2021