Red list saga: UK doesn't ‘recognise' South Africa's vaccine certificates

© Provided by The South African

The United Kingdom (UK) government has sought to clear the air around some of the misconceptions surrounding its decision to keep South Africa on its COVID-19 travel red list.

The country revised the list last week – removing eight countries, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Maldives and Kenya, however South Africa did not make the cut. This means that those travelling from the country to the UK will only be allowed entry if they are British or Irish nationals or have residence rights in the UK.

UK-South Africa relations: Discussions to be held

Speaking to eNCA, UK acting-high commissioner to SA Adam Bye said stressed that the UK government does recognise the validity of the vaccines coming from all over the world, but the focus is rather on vaccination certificates, something he says isn’t imposing just on South Africa.

“We started very small, with a pilot – recognising the vaccine certificates of a few countries and we are expanding that out… we’re hoping to expand that into the whole world,” he told the broadcaster.

When asked whether the UK doesn’t recognise South African vaccine certificates, Bye said:

“We haven’t had discussions about that yet. Because we have been taking this gradual approach, those discussions haven’t happened but we are looking forward to having those discussions with the South African government”

Bye adds that they are also working with the National Department of Health, particularly around the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS), which plays a key role in the issuing of certificates.

The UK was motivated by Beta variant in South Africa, despite it being the Delta variant that is dominant.

Vaccinologist Dr Shabir Madhi says there is no scientific basis for the decision.

“It is more irrational than anything else and there is no scientific basis for this decision to be made. The vaccines that are being used in SA are not inferior to those being used in the UK or anywhere else in the world. SA has the Delta variant that is dominating but SA has more people vaccinated than places such as Kenya and Pakistan for example, which have been removed from the Red List. So it is difficult to comprehend the basis on which this decision has been made,” Madhi said to the SABC.

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