Downing Street has said the UK does not have “excess doses” of vaccines that could be sent to India as the nation grapples with a deadly spike in coronavirus infections.
The Foreign Office announced that 200 ventilators from Britain’s surplus medical supplies arrived in Delhi on Tuesday in the first shipment since Boris Johnson pledged his support to India.
Support for the country’s health system is very much welcomed as it struggled with a spike of 320,000 new cases and 2,771 reported deaths on Tuesday.
However, India is also reportedly struggling to manufacture and dispose of vaccines quickly enough as a wave of cases is fueled by highly virulent new strains.
When asked if Britain would send vaccines to India, Downing Street noted that the government had committed to sending excess doses to other nations through the Covax initiative.
“Right now we are going through the UK priority list for our domestic rollout and we have no excess doses, but we will continue to review,” said the Prime Minister’s official spokesman.
When asked whether the government would cancel an order for five million AstraZeneca cans from India, the spokesman noted the “deeply worrying” situation in India and added: “Our priority right now is to contact the Indian government and local health authorities to support the management of the crisis. ”
Mr Johnson was due to travel to India on Monday for a summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi but was forced to cancel last week due to the deteriorating situation.
In light of the shortage of oxygen in Indian hospitals, the Foreign Office announced that there were 95 oxygen concentrators in the shipment leaving the UK on Sunday.
Another 400 machines are expected to arrive later this week.
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab tweeted: “It’s good to see that the first of our medical aid supplies have now arrived in India and are being used where they are most urgently needed.
“Nobody is safe until we are all safe. International cooperation is key to combating this global threat. “
Joe Biden’s White House wanted to share raw materials for the AstraZeneca vaccine by forwarding some U.S. orders to the Serum Institute of India.