Boris Johnson hails India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity

London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a special reference to India’s role in the manufacture and access to one of the most promising coronavirus vaccine candidates currently undergoing trials during his address to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

In reference to the vaccine being worked on by the University of Oxford, Johnson stressed the importance of equitable access of any successful vaccine because the health of every country depends on the whole world having access to a safe and effective vaccine, wherever a breakthrough might occur.

“As I speak there are 100 potential vaccines that are trying to clear the hurdles of safety and efficacy, as if in a giant global steeplechase,” Johnson said in a prerecorded speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday.

“The Oxford vaccine is now in Stage 3 of clinical trials, and in case of success AstraZeneca has already begun to manufacture millions of doses, in readiness for rapid distribution, and they have reached agreement with the Serum Institute of India to supply 1 billion doses to low and middle-income countries,” he said. Declaring that “humanity was caught napping” as the pandemic struck and has been “scrabbling to catch up” ever since, Johnson issued a spirited defence of the World Health Organisation as the one body that marshals humanity against the legions of disease and confirmed increased investment that would make the UK the largest state donor to the UN health agency if US President Donald Trump’s exit from the multilateral body goes through next year.

He pushed for greater international collaboration to fight a common enemy such as the virus and urged countries to reach across borders and repair “ugly rifts” and “heal the world”.

“And after nine months of fighting COVID-19, the very notion of the international community looks, frankly, pretty tattered. And we know that we simply can’t continue in this way. Unless we get our act together,” he said.

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