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Britain ‘can and should do more’ to help India tackle Covid crisis, says Labour

BRITAIN “can and should do more” to help India as the country struggles to tackle a deadly wave of coronavirus, shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said today.

A major humanitarian crisis is underway in India as new variants in part have fuelled a surge of cases in the country, where Covid-19 has claimed at least 215,000 lives.

Britain 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.

Ms Nandy told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “It was India that stepped up for us when almost a year ago today we were in real dire straights, struggling to contain the impact of the pandemic, the Prime Minister had just left hospital, we were woefully unprepared and we had to appeal to the rest of the world for help, and India stepped forward.

“We are world leaders in genomic sequencing, we can track and map how this virus is mutating and developing. Only a few months ago Matt Hancock said we should make that capacity available to the world — we should be offering that support to India at the moment.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that Britain would “look very carefully” at any request for vaccines from India.

The Tory minister will meet with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tomorrow as he hosts face-to-face meetings with G7 foreign ministers.

He told the Andrew Marr Show that the government had not had a request for vaccines from Delhi and said that he was not going to “speculate on hypothetical scenarios” when pressed if ministers would grant India access to British supplies.

His comments came as Britain faced widespread criticism following the government’s move to reduce its funding to Unicef by around 60 per cent.

The UN children’s fund said on Saturday that it was “deeply concerned” by the decision as it urged ministers to restore overseas aid funding by the end of the year at the latest.

It is the latest cut to emerge from the government’s decision to break its manifesto commitment to maintain spending at 0.7 per cent of national income by slashing it to 0.5 per cent.

Mr Raab said that cutting the aid budget has been “very difficult” but insisted that it was necessary because of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the economy.

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