The UK is sending a further 1,000 ventilators to India to help the country’s struggling healthcare system amid a deadly wave of coronavirus.
Boris Johnson pledged that Britain would ‘always be there for India’ as he committed to fresh assistance, including advice from NHS staff and Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.
The 1,000 ventilators from the UK’s surplus supply are in addition to 200 sent last week, in shipments that have included nearly 500 oxygen concentrators.
On Sunday India recorded its highest ever daily coronavirus death toll after 3,689 people died within 24 hours. It comes one day after it became the first country to register more than 400,000 new cases in a 24-hour period.
In a statement, Johnson said: ‘The terrible images we have seen in India in recent weeks are all the more powerful because of the close and enduring connection between the people of the UK and India.
‘I am deeply moved by the surge of support the British people have provided to the people of India and am pleased the UK Government has been able to play our part in providing life-saving assistance. The UK will always be there for India in its time of need.’
Prof Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, and Sir Patrick, the chief scientific adviser, have spoken to their Indian counterparts to share the expertise they have gained during the UK’s battle with Covid.
NHS England is also establishing a clinical advisory group to support India’s response by sharing knowledge on how to manage outbreaks.
Earlier today Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK would ‘look very carefully’ at any request for vaccines from India. The Cabinet minister is due to meet his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Monday as he hosts face-to-face meetings with G7 foreign ministers.
India is in dire need of vaccines despite it being the world’s largest manufacturer of jabs. Only about 2% of the country’s population have been fully vaccinated, and around 10% have had their first dose.
Raab said the Government has not had a request for vaccines from New Delhi as he was questioned over plans as Britain vaccinates younger and healthier people.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show he was not going to ‘speculate on hypothetical scenarios’ when pressed if ministers would grant India access to UK supplies.
He said: ‘The Indian relationship is very important to us and we’d obviously want to co-operate very closely together.
‘You know, right throughout this crisis we have said we need to keep supply chains, particularly supply chains, open and we ought to resolve these kind of issues through collaboration, and that is certainly what we’re doing with the Indians.’
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