The horrific scenes in India – where people die in hospital corridors and bodies are cremated in parking lots – have led the government to step up emergency aid to Delhi.
“The UK will always be there for India when needed,” Johnson said, announcing the boost to the 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and 3 oxygen generating units already sent.
In addition, UK health and science chiefs – Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance – are giving advice to their Indian counterparts to deal with the worst pandemic wave the world has seen so far. .
But pressure is mounting on the prime minister to drop or suspend an agreement to receive the 5 million doses, the delivery of which has already been delayed by the Delhi government due to the crisis.
Professor Andrew Pollard, who heads the Oxford Vaccine Group, said it was unacceptable for the UK to vaccinate younger age groups with “thousands of people dying” in poorer countries.
And he was backed by senior immunologist and government adviser Peter Openshaw, who agreed the UK should not “withdraw vaccines while this situation is so serious.”
“It would seem like a very reasonable arrangement to make,” said Prof Openshaw, adding, “We in this country have ordered at least twice as much vaccine as we could use.”
But he told the BBC Spectacle d’Andrew Marr that it is better to work through the World Health Organization (WHO) rather than donating vaccines directly to specific countries.
“That doesn’t mean we actually have it in stores ready to go, but we could certainly give something over 120 million doses, but probably better through the WHO Covax system,” he said. he declared.
But, when asked about the administration of vaccines to India, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said: “I have not received a request, I can tell you about it specifically.
Her Labor shadow Lisa Nandy also supported the UK to complete its vaccination program first, saying: ‘We have yet to beat this virus in Britain and we need to keep the momentum going.’
But Patrick Watt, Christian Aid’s policy director, said: ‘Now that almost all UK adults in high-risk categories have been vaccinated – many of them with doses made in India – the UK should share. its supplies to South Asia and other poorer regions. where deployment has been slow. “
On Tuesday, Mr Johnson will hold a virtual meeting with Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, “to deepen cooperation”, having been forced to forgo a visit scheduled for last month.