Monday 26 April 2021 / 8:05 AM Coronavirus / Jonathan Ashworth / Lisa Nandy

Labour calls on UK government to show “real leadership” by extending offer of support to India

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy and Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth have written to their counterparts in government to demand the UK “show real leadership” as India’s health system threatens to collapse under the pressure of rising cases.

In the letter, Nandy and Ashworth set out the specific areas in which British expertise, capacity and support can assist the India government, including:

                     Supplies of liquid oxygen and cannisters for hospitalised patients

                     Expertise in genome sequencing and epidemiology

                     Surplus therapeutic drugs

                     A commitment to share surplus doses of Covid-19 vaccine purchased by the UK Government with India and support to the Indian government in ramping up vaccine production and distribution to reach all parts of the country

As cases continue to surge across India, the letter reminds the Foreign and Health secretaries that it “is almost a year ago to the day that the Indian government, in response to the UK’s request for assistance, approved the export almost three million packets of paracetamol to support our own fight against this virus”.

For a fourth consecutive day in a row India has seen record levels of new infections and rising deaths, with experts predicting this latest wave may not peak for several weeks.

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said:

“Defeating this virus anywhere means defeating it everywhere. We have seen how quickly COVID-19 variants that have been identified in one country are able to spread rapidly across the globe.

“The UK can offer expertise and capacity in crucial areas like genome sequencing and epidemiology that have already proven vital in mapping and restricting the spread of coronavirus. It is vital, not only for protecting the lives of millions in the subcontinent, but also in limiting the spread of potentially vaccine-resilient variants to our own shores.

“This pandemic has been a stark reminder of the importance of global collaboration. Now is not the moment for the UK to step back from our international obligations, but to step forward and show real leadership.”

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said:

“Given our deep links with India, the UK cannot remain on the side lines. This pandemic has been a stark reminder of the interconnected nature of our world and the impact events on the other side of the globe can have here in the UK. Nowhere is safe until everywhere safe. The virus and its variants cannot be defeated by the individual efforts of nations alone.

“The crisis reminds us of the power of international collaboration and the importance of standing in solidarity with our global partners in the fight against this disease.”