U.K. PM Johnson to Shorten His India Trip Due to Pandemic
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves for the first Prime Ministers Questions after the Easter Recess at Downing Street on April 14 in London, England. (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI/LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided to shorten his trip to New Delhi later this month in view of the severity of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India.
The visit, due on April 26, is significant for the U.K. as it is eyeing a new bilateral trade deal with India, following its exit from the European Union.
India is the second-largest investor in the U.K., after the U.S. Post-Brexit, the U.K. is focused on the Indo-Pacific region for its economy and security.
Johnson had earlier indicated that apart from New Delhi, he wanted to visit Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Chennai.
Official sources April 14, however, said that Johnson is reducing the length of his trip to India. A spokesperson in London told media that the decision to shorten the visit was taken after due consultations with the Indian government.
Incidentally, India has placed a temporary hold on all exports of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after the rise in Covid-19 infection cases at home. The suspension of exports is expected to affect supplies to around 190 countries including the U.K.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is a two-dose vaccine jointly developed by the Oxford Vaccine Group and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Serum Institute of India’s Covid-19 vaccine called Covishield is the local version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India. However, as the second wave of the pandemic has hit India badly, the domestic demand for the vaccine has increased hugely.
The coronavirus pandemic management and vaccine distribution will be part of Prime Minister Johnson’s visit, ministry of external affairs sources in New Delhi said.