The British Minister for Health said the UK currently has no excess doses to send to India – which is currently home to the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak – despite the ongoing vaccination rollout in the country which has successfully immunized its priority groups and is now targeting the youngest. age.
Despite growing calls for rich countries to fairly distribute their surplus vaccines, Hancock said they are providing India with the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine at cost and are also working closely with the Serum Institute of India (SII).
The SII “manufactures and produces more doses of vaccine than any other organization. And obviously that means they can provide vaccines to people in India at cost, ”Hancock said.
“We rely on both what we can provide and on the material goods we can provide now, such as ventilators which we luckily no longer need here,” he said.
“India can produce their own vaccine, based on British technology, that’s… the biggest contribution we can make, which actually comes from British science,” Hancock added.
India is in the throes of a second deadly wave of the coronavirus which has seen cases surpass 300,000 for eight consecutive days and a death toll that has exceeded 200,000 – after the country reported 3,293 deaths on Wednesday.
Hancock’s comments on vaccine exports come as a recent Ipsos MORI survey found that many people in the UK want to send vaccines to India.
The survey, which surveyed 1,016 adults aged 16 to 75 on Tuesday, found:
- About two-thirds (63%) of those polled said they support the UK giving some of its vaccines to India while everyone in the UK has been vaccinated
- 43% of those polled supported sending vaccines to India ‘as soon as possible’, even if that meant easing UK lockdown restrictions at a slower pace.
- 36% of respondents said they were in favor of sending vaccines ‘as soon as possible’ even if it delayed the rollout of vaccines in the UK – or resulted in a longer wait time for vaccines for their friends and their families.
More than 33.9 million people in the UK have already received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with more than 13.5 million now fully vaccinated, according to the latest government data.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Wednesday announced it would send three “oxygen factories” to India, saying in a statement that the three oxygen generating units – each the size of a shipping container – would be shipped from excess stock in Northern Ireland and would produce 500 liters of oxygen per minute each, which is enough for 50 people at a time.
The UK had already pledged to supply India with 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 ventilators from excess stock, the first batch of which arrived in India on Tuesday, the FCO statement said.
“International collaboration is more essential than ever, and this additional support package from the UK will help meet India’s current needs, especially for more oxygen,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said in a statement.
The FCO statement comes as the aid sector has strongly criticized the UK’s plan to cut the aid it pledged to the UN family planning program by 85%.
A senior UN official on Wednesday called the move “devastating for women and girls and their families around the world.”
“When funding stops, women and girls suffer, especially the poor, those living in remote and underserved communities and those experiencing humanitarian crises,” said Natalia Kanem – head of the agency on Wednesday. of sexual and reproductive health, in a statement.
This means that the expected UK contribution of £ 154million (around $ 211million) will be reduced to around £ 23million ($ 32million).
Speaking of the cuts, Raab said it was part of the Foreign Ministry’s efforts to ensure “maximum strategic coherence, impact and value for taxpayers’ money.”
The UK was also criticized by the humanitarian sector last year for cutting aid spending from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%.
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