Jamaica says it has brought the issue of the vaccination status of Jamaican nationals not being recognized in the United Kingdom to the attention of CARICOM and that it intends to raise the matter further during bilateral talks with London later this week.
The British government recently announced a new travel policy that will allow fully vaccinated travelers to skip quarantine and take fewer tests. But there was some confusion on who the UK considers fully vaccinated.
To avoid the restrictions, travelers must have received a vaccine under the American, British or European programs or have received a U.K.-authorized shot from an approved health body. Bodies in more than a dozen countries in Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East made it to the list — but India’s did not, nor did any in Africa.
With most CARICOM countries having received vaccines from India, there has been outrage over the policy. In a statement, Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Kamina Johnson-Smith said she plans to raise her concerns with the UK government.
“I brought the issue of the treatment of vaccination programmes to the attention of CARICOM for action last week, and I have engaged the UK government on the issue at the technical level,” Johnson Smith said.
“Additionally, I will also raise the matter in the upcoming bilateral meeting with the UK, in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly this week.”
Following the global outrage, Britain walked back one aspect that caused particular consternation: Doses of AstraZeneca made in India, known as Covishield, were initially not on the list of approved vaccines. The Indian-made product hasn’t been formally authorized by U.K. regulators, although some doses have been used in Britain — and millions were shipped to low- and middle-income countries in the Caribbean.
Covishield was added to the U.K.’s list of approved vaccines for travelers on Wednesday.
For African nations, the new U.K. rules are a setback. Less than 4% of Africa’s population of 1.3 billion is fully vaccinated, and many have looked on with dismay as richer countries stockpile doses and discuss giving third shots to their populations.
Kirka reported from London and Saaliq from New Delhi. Associated Press writers Mogomotsi Magome in Johannesburg and Gerald Imray in Cape Town, South Africa, contributed.