India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab during their meeting in New Delhi, India, December 16, 2020. India’s Press Information Bureau/Handout via REUTERS
THE UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday(16) said that experts from India and the UK will join forces through a new virtual hub to deliver vaccines for coronavirus and other deadly viruses.
Raab met Indian prime minister Modi to discuss the UK and India 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 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, an official statement said.
He also visited a Delhi health clinic where Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines will be administered.
India’s Serum Institute is poised to make over a billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.
“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,” Raab said.
“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 two countries also announced a new memorandum of understanding between India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (UK MHRA) agreeing to more frequent discussions on UK-India vaccine and pharmaceutical regulations, improving standards and sharing information to control against the trade of unlicensed products.
Besides, a new partnership to help UK and Indian scientists unlock the power of data, including the data within our genes, to deliver better diagnostics and enhanced life-saving treatments for cancer, diabetes, maternal health challenges and rare diseases was also formed.
During the meeting, Raab also signalled his ambition for a closer UK-India relationship as part of a wider UK focus on partnerships in the Indo-Pacific.
The two leaders 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.
Raab also met minister for education Ramesh Pokhriyal and agreed to work together on mutual recognition of academic qualifications, starting with master’s degrees, over the next year.
The minister welcomed the signing of a new agreement between the University of Edinburgh and the Indian State of Gujarat to open a new biotechnology university in Gujarat in July 2021. This will be the first foreign university collaboration of its kind in India.
India supplies more than 50 per cent of the world’s vaccines and 25 per cent of the NHS’s generic drugs. 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 statement further said.
Millions of the doses made by the Serum Institute 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.