Experts from India and the UK will partner through a virtual hub to deliver vaccines for coronavirus and other deadly viruses, office of the foreign secretary Dominic Raab said on Wednesday.
The hub will share best practice for regulation and clinical trials, and foster innovation. It will enable British and Indian experts to share knowledge on clinical trials and regulatory approvals and get vaccines to people who need them most.
“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,” Raab said in a press statement.
Millions of the doses made by India’s Serum Institute will be distributed to the world’s poorest people via the global COVAX initiative, in partnership with the World Health Organisation and Gavi, the vaccine alliance.
Serum Institute is set to make over a billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca (AZN.L).
The UK has committed up to £619m ($837m) to COVAX to secure both the UK’s access to coronavirus vaccines and to distribute them across the world.
India supplies more than 50% of the world’s vaccines and 25% 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 Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said in a statement.
The UK also announced on Wednesday that more than 137,000 people in the country have received the first dose of the Pfizer (PFE)/BioNTech (BNTX) COVID-19 vaccine in the first week of the largest vaccination programme in British history.
Meanwhile, prime minister Boris Johnson’s administration won a rare ringing endorsement from a body charged with scrutinising public spending on Wednesday over its vaccine management.
“Government has worked quickly and effectively to secure access to potential vaccines, using the available information to make big decisions in an inherently uncertain environment,” said Gareth Davies, head of the National Audit Office.
Earlier this week, the UK government said prime minister Boris Johnson will visit India in January 2021 to boost jobs and investment in Britain.
The UK government is expecting the trip to enhance cooperation in key areas throughout 2021 and beyond, including trade and investment, defence, security as well as climate change.
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