I am a British citizen who has had two doses of the Sinovac Covid vaccine while living in Chile, but it is not recognised by the UK government. My job requires me to travel often. As I’m not regarded as fully vaccinated, I am obliged to pay £136 for two Covid tests each time I return to the UK, quarantine for 10 days (the test-to-release scheme isn’t available in Wales where I live), and am barred from certain events. The NHS is only able to give me one dose of the Pfizer vaccine as I have already had two Sinovac jabs.
Sinovac is manufactured in China and was validated for emergency use in June by the WHO. However, neither the UK nor the European Medicines Agency has yet approved it, although nine Schengen area countries have. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) told me it’s working to determine which of the international vaccines not currently licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency can be recognised, which is of little consolation.
According to the tourism trade association UKinbound, the issue is threatening livelihoods. “The UK’s lack of vaccine parity is detrimental to our recovery,” says Joss Croft, its chief executive. “International visitors sustain more than 500,000 jobs across the country, but many are choosing to visit alternative destinations where vaccines such as Sinovac are recognised.”
Meanwhile, RWL of London and his wife have been struggling to get their Pfizer jabs recognised in the UK because they were administered while they were living in Israel. “We are being bugged by official reminders to get vaccinated. As far as the UK is concerned we have not been jabbed,” he writes. “The most we have managed to get is a note on our health record, but this does not translate into a Covid pass, so we are forced to take repeated tests.”
The DHSC says: “We are urgently working to access the data for UK residents who have received their vaccinations abroad to ensure they can demonstrate their vaccination status via the NHS Covid pass.” An update is promised “shortly”. If the UK government’s Plan B is launched in England, they will become essential to access certain venues and services. In Scotland and Wales they already are.
Last month, the UK government said it would recognise vaccine certificates issued by a large number of countries, provided they are written in English, French or Spanish, so you will no longer need to quarantine on arrival.
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