The UK will send 1,000 extra ventilators to India as the country is engulfed by a Covid crisis.
The machines from Britain’s surplus supply add to 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and 3 oxygen generation units sent last week.
NHS England will also establish a clinical advisory group to work with Indian authorities, who recorded 3,689 new deaths in the last 24 hours.
Announcing the move, Boris Johnson said: “The terrible images we have seen in India in recent weeks are all the more powerful because of the close and enduring connection between the people of the UK and India.
“I am deeply moved by the surge of support the British people have provided to the people of India and am pleased the UK Government has been able to play our part in providing life-saving assistance.
“The UK will always be there for India in its time of need.”
India has recorded 3,689 new deaths in the last 24 hours
(Image: Getty Images)
The government also hailed the British Asian Trust’s ‘Oxygen for India’ emergency appeal which has raised £1.5m in a week.
But calls were mounting to also help India by sending vaccine doses after the UK said it does not currently have any surplus supplies.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK will “look very carefully” at any request for vaccines from India as he meets his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in G7 talks on Monday.
A major humanitarian crisis is under way as new variants in part fuel a surge in cases in India, where Covid-19 has claimed at least 215,000 lives.
The UK has sent shipments of oxygen concentrators and ventilators to Delhi, but the nation is in dire need of vaccines despite it being the world’s largest manufacturer of jabs.
Critical patients receive free oxygen provided by a Gurdwara in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh
(Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Mr Raab said the UK Government has not had a request for vaccines from Delhi, but told the BBC: “We’ll always look very carefully at any requests we’ve got.”
He said he was not going to “speculate on hypothetical scenarios” when pressed if ministers would grant India access to UK supplies.
“The Indian relationship is very important to us and we’d obviously want to co-operate very closely together,” Mr Raab said.
“You know, right throughout this crisis we have said we need to keep supply chains, particularly supply chains, open and we ought to resolve these kind of issues through collaboration, and that is certainly what we’re doing with the Indians.”
His Labour shadow Lisa Nandy said Britain should aim to send jabs to India “as soon as possible” but that the UK programme should not be paused to do so.
“We haven’t defeated this virus in Britain yet and we need to keep up the momentum with that vaccination programme,” she told Marr on the BBC.
“This is a question that is really personal to me. I just found out last night that a close family member in India is in hospital with Covid and I’ve got family members here in the UK who are deeply affected by Covid as well.”
A UK order of five million AstraZeneca doses has been stalled in India over a need for re-testing and there have been questions over whether the Government may allow them to be used there.
Professor Peter Openshaw, a scientist who advises the Government, said it would be a “very reasonable arrangement” to allow India to keep those jabs.
But he added: “It’s a matter of balancing what we have available to our own population and what we can distribute equitably around the world through these well-organised systems that are in place.”