India has fantastic ''vaccine capability''; will be crucial in COVID-19 fight: UK envoy

India has a fantastic "vaccine capability" and it would play a crucial role in the partnerships the UK is building on COVID-19 vaccine development and manufacturing, the new British High Commissioner said on Thursday.
British High Commissioner Philip Barton also said India is "really important" to the UK in meeting the COVID-19 challenges and getting through the pandemic.

"Clearly India has a fantastic vaccine capability, in particular the Serum Institute. We have entered into a number of agreements and most notable one is with AstraZeneca," he said during a virtual media briefing.

Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, has partnered with biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to manufacture the experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford.

Noting that the initial results of the Oxford University's early-stage human trials for a COVID-19 vaccine were encouraging, Barton, however, said, "We need to be cautious. We don't know if it is going to work. Oxford is well placed, but it is not there yet."

"The latest reports of the results of the Oxford University vaccine candidate are encouraging and, of course, as you all know, it will be manufactured here in India by the Serum Institute.

"I think that really illustrates our partnership in the health sector -- for the benefit of both our countries, but also more broadly for the world in general as we try to cope with and get beyond the pandemic," Barton said.

He said putting health cooperation at the heart of the Indo-UK partnership was his top priority.

"We' 're all in this (fight against the pandemic) together. It is partnerships and working together that is going to get us through it. And India is really important to the UK in that regard," Barton said.

It was crucial in giving permissions for the export of paracetamol when supplies were running very low in the UK and also in allowing supplies of PPEs, he said.

"It is going to be crucial in the future in the partnership we are building on things like vaccines. Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the global vaccines summit in June that we hosted and made a financial commitment alongside many other countries to the vaccine alliance which we hope will provide a vaccine that will be made available globally to every one and see us through this crisis," the British envoy said.

He said the Indo-UK health partnership goes beyond that and has a wider research element to it.

"The UK is now India's second biggest research partner. We will be putting in 400 million pounds into research partnership next year," Barton said.
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