UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Sunday said that Britain will help India with “whatever they ask for” amid speculations over vaccine donation. Raab told Sky News that he recently spoke to external affairs minister S Jaishankar and assured him help in whatever way possible. He stressed that the UK was “doing everything that our Indian friends need in their hour of need.”
The ministry of health and family welfare on Sunday morning said that 3,92,488 new Covid-19 cases and 3,689 related deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. The huge spike in Covid-19 cases has overwhelmed India’s health care infrastructure and a shortage of oxygen and other medical supplies have been reported from multiple states.
“I recently spoke to foreign minister Jaishankar, my opposite number there, and we said that we’ll do whatever we can, whatever they ask for,” the UK foreign secretary said.
“I do think it’s important with these emergency packages, you listen very carefully to the Indian authorities and see that we’re giving them what they need,” he added.
Raab’s assurance comes days after UK health secretary Matt Hancock said Britain had no excess vaccine doses to donate. However, the foreign secretary didn’t explicitly address the speculation surrounding vaccine donation. Raab said that the UK has provided oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and it will be sending another package of a “thousand ventilators very shortly.”
“We have also looked at these oxygen generators like mini factories and that’s the thing they need right now and I’ve been in regular contact with foreign minister Jaishankar and I’ll be seeing him tomorrow as well,” Raab added.
In another TV appearance on BBC, the Conservative leader said India had not requested vaccines from the UK and he would not speculate on a “hypothetical scenario”. While 65% of all adults in the UK have received at least one dose of vaccine against coronavirus disease (Covid-19), India has administered one dose of vaccine to only 9% of its population, according to the data shared by respective governments.
“We obviously want to cooperate very closely together. Right throughout this crisis we’ve said we need to keep supply chains, particularly critical supply chains, open, and we ought to resolve these kinds of issues through collaboration, and that is certainly what we’re doing with the Indians,” Raab told BBC.