UK Approves China’s COVID-19 Vaccines, But There’s a Catch

By Alistair Baker-Brian, November 11, 2021

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An announcement by the UK government on November 8 signaled their approval of China’s COVID-19 vaccines for those entering England from abroad. 

As of 4am on November 22, 2021, China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm Beijing vaccines will be accepted for entry into England, according to the UK government’s Department for Transport. Other parts of the UK (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) may apply different entry rules.

The vaccines are not approved for local immunizations. 

The rules state that travelers must have had “a complete course of one of the (approved) vaccines at least 14 days before you arrive in England.” The day you had your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days.

However, as with most COVID-19-related news, things are not so simple. 

Read the small print on the UK government website and you will find a section entitled “Proof of vaccination.” 

If you’ve been vaccinated outside the UK, you need to provide proof of your vaccination with an official vaccine certificate.

Check the list beneath the subheading “Countries with an approved proof of vaccination and examples of proof required,” and you will find that, as of press time, the Chinese mainland is not on the list. 

What does this mean for those who have been fully vaccinated in China with Sinovac or Sinopharm, and want to enter the UK? Read the following:

“If you have proof of vaccination from a country or territory that is not on this list, or with a vaccine that is not listed, you must follow the rules for people who do not qualify as fully vaccinated.”


Screengrab via GOV.UK

Travelers who are not qualified as fully vaccinated (including those vaccinated in the Chinese mainland) must follow all relevant rules implemented by the UK government regarding testing and home quarantine. 

The move follows a trend of countries opening up to international travel following border restrictions due to COVID-19. 

Australia recently announced that from November onwards, China’s Sinovac vaccine would be recognized for those entering the country. Meanwhile, the United States has approved both Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines for entry. 

READ MORE: Will China Re-Open Its Border Once 80% of Population Vaccinated?

While getting vaccinated may be easy, the rules set out by the UK government suggest that proving your vaccination record may be a little trickier. 

On the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, a “digital pass via Smartphone application with QR code” is listed as acceptable proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Does this mean to enter the United States we can use a Chinese app which shows our vaccination records? We don’t know. 

What we do know is that if you’re traveling abroad, you should double check all the relevant rules before departure.

The complicated rules may not be so welcome. However, recognition of China’s COVID-19 vaccines for international travel by governments around the world is good news for expats in China looking to return home.  

Just another step in the long journey back to normality.

[Cover image via Pixabay]

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