India, UK decide to enhance partnership on COVID-19 vaccines

By PTI
NEW DELHI: India and the UK agreed on Tuesday to “expand and enhance” their existing partnership on vaccines, besides vowing to work together to reform and strengthen the World Health Organization (WHO) and the global health security architecture to strengthen pandemic resilience.

The decision was taken at a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson.

“They agreed to expand and enhance the existing UK-India vaccines partnership, highlighting the successful collaboration between the Oxford University, AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India (SII) on an effective COVID-19 vaccine that is ‘developed in UK’, ‘Made in India’ and ‘distributed globally’,” a joint statement on the Modi-Johnson talks said.

It said the two leaders emphasised that the international community should “learn lessons” and agreed to work together to reform and strengthen the WHO and the global health security architecture to strengthen pandemic resilience.

Both leaders emphasised that global cooperation and solidarity are key to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and achieving sustainable and inclusive recovery.

Joint Secretary in the Europe West division in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Sandeep Chakravorty told a media briefing that Johnson did inform Modi about the SII investing in the UK and that it will be manufacturing vaccines in that country.

It was already announced that the SII will invest 240 million pounds in the UK to expand its vaccine business and set up a new sales office, creating a large number of jobs.

The investment is part the of plans for a one-billion pound India-UK Enhanced Trade Partnership.

“As the world continues to face severe new waves of COVID-19 infections, both leaders acknowledged the difficult circumstances caused by the pandemic globally,” the statement said.

It said Modi thanked Johnson for the prompt assistance provided by the UK in the form of critical medical equipment for ameliorating the current situation in India.

“Both leaders emphasised that global cooperation and solidarity are key to fighting the pandemic and achieving sustainable and inclusive recovery,” it said.

The statement said Modi and Johnson offered their deepest condolences for the loss of lives and expressed sympathy with the families of the victims of the pandemic in India, the UK and the rest of the world.

It said the UK also reaffirmed its support for India’s permanent membership on a reformed United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

“In this context, both countries called for the initiation of text-based negotiations with the aim of achieving concrete outcomes within a fixed timeframe. The UK also reiterated its support for India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” it said.