The UK is currently moving through its domestic priority lists for Covid-19 vaccines and therefore has no surplus doses to share with countries in need such as India at this stage, Downing Street said on Tuesday.
In reference to India’s devastating second wave of the pandemic, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said the process is kept under constant review, while the country sends an assistance package made up of 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators to India to meet the supply shortages over the course of the week.
The first tranche of 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators arrived in New Delhi early on Tuesday.
“We committed in February to sending excess doses from the UK’s supply to the COVAX procurement pool and to countries in need, once they are available,” the UK PM’s spokesperson said.
“Right now we are moving through the UK prioritisation list for our domestic rollout and don’t have surplus doses, but we keep this under constant review. We recognise that no one is safe until we’re all safe in this pandemic which is why the UK has contributed GBP 548 million to COVAX and sent vital medical supplies to India,” the spokesperson said.
The COVAX facility refers to the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access global initiative aimed at equitable access to vaccines led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The latest update from Downing Street comes as it emerged that the US is to export around 60 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, with India expected to be among the biggest recipients of the consignment after talks between US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
With 3,23,144 people testing positive for the coronavirus in a day, India’s infection tally climbed to 1,76,36,307 on Tuesday. The death toll mounted to 1,97,894 with 2,771 new fatalities.
Several efforts are on within the Indian diaspora in the UK to fundraise for essential supplies such as oxygen concentrators and coordinate distribution of across India’s struggling hospitals through a series of emergency appeals, including by charities such as the British Asian Trust and British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO).