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India & UK to boost collaboration on Covid response, develop virtual vaccine hub

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (ANI)Premium
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (ANI)

  • UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also visited a Delhi health clinic where Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines will be administered.
  • The leaders also spoke about a 10-year roadmap heralding a new era for the UK and India with an ambitious plan for an Enhanced Trade Partnership

The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss various facets of our strategic partnership.

Along with that, the officials also discussed a slew of possibilities regarding Covid-19 response between both the countries, including developing virtual hub to deliver vaccines for coronavirus and other deadly viruses.

"UK and India are working together as a force for good and launching the pioneering new vaccines hub, which will share best practice for regulation and clinical trials, and foster innovation," the British High Commission said in a statement.

Raab also visited a Delhi health clinic where Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines will be administered.

Pune-based Serum Institute is currently poised to deliver over a billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Unlike other vaccines, it can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, making it easier and cheaper to produce and keep – and distribute around the world.

Raab during his meeting with PM Modi said, "This Serum Institute and Oxford University partnership demonstrates the UK-India relationship at its best: a vaccine developed in the UK and made in India, drawing our brightest minds together to save lives as a global force for good."

"A global pandemic requires a global solution. Scientific cooperation has made breakthroughs on coronavirus vaccines at record-breaking pace and the UK-India Vaccine Hub will now build on these innovations, to bring this crisis to an end and protect us all against future pandemics," the UK Foreign Secretary said in a statement.

The statement also said that millions of the Covid-19 doses by Serum will be distributed to the world’s poorest people via the global COVAX initiative, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the vaccine alliance.

The UK has championed equitable access to any coronavirus vaccine for those who need it and has committed up to £619 million to COVAX to secure both the UK’s access to coronavirus vaccines and distribute Covid-19 vaccines across the world.

"The new hub will enable British and Indian experts to share knowledge on clinical trials and regulatory approvals and get vaccines to people who need them most in a safe, secure and energy-efficient way," the official release said in a statement.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Modi today, the Foreign Secretary signalled his ambition for a closer UK-India relationship as part of a wider UK focus on our partnerships in the Indo-Pacific. They also spoke about the 10-year roadmap which heralds a new era for the UK and India with an ambitious plan for an Enhanced Trade Partnership.

According to the British High Commission, India supplies over 50% of the world's vaccines and 25% of the National Health Service's (NHS) generic drugs. A closer UK-India cooperation on medicines and vaccines approvals will ensure speedy access for the UK to Indian-produced pharmaceuticals and help safeguard future supplies to the NHS.

The UK Foreign Secretary signalled his ambition for a closer UK-India relationship as part of a wider UK focus on partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.

The leaders also spoke about a 10-year roadmap heralding a new era for the UK and India with an ambitious plan for an Enhanced Trade Partnership.

PM Modi termed the interaction with Raab as "excellent" adding that he looked forward to having Prime Minister Boris Johnson attend the Republic Day ceremony next year as the chief guest.

The British High Commission further informed that Raab also met Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and agreed to work together on mutual recognition of academic qualifications, starting with master's degrees, over the next year.

Raab also welcomed the signing of a new agreement between the University of Edinburgh and Gujarat to open a new biotechnology university in the state by July 2021, marking the first foreign university collaboration of its kind in India.

On Tuesday, he also met with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar where the two discussed opportunities in a post-Covid post-Brexit world for a stronger India-UK partnership.


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