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UK sends oxygen generating units to Covid-hit India

London – Britain announced on Wednesday that it was sending three oxygen-generating units to India hit by Covid after a first aid shipment this week, but said it had no spare vaccines to offer.

The three units, called oxygen factories, are the size of a container and can produce 500 liters of oxygen per minute, the UK government said.

“We support our Indian friends in their fight against Covid-19,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said in a statement.

“International collaboration is more essential than ever, and this additional support package from the UK will help meet India’s current needs, especially for more oxygen.”

The new shipment follows a first batch of oxygen concentrators and ventilators from Britain that arrived in India on Tuesday, with more of those supplies arriving on Friday.

In total, Britain is shipping 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 fans to India this week. There was no immediate response from the Foreign Office to an AFP question about when container-size factories would arrive.

The death toll from coronavirus in India surpassed 200,000 on Wednesday, when a relentless wave of new cases flooded hospitals and sent desperate families to the streets of New Delhi in search of supplies of oxygen and medicine.

The United States says it is sending up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine abroad, with India expected to be among the recipient nations.

Critics accused Washington of “accumulating” the vaccine developed by the British, which is not authorized in the United States and is unlikely to be required to vaccinate Americans.

Britain itself does not have surplus vaccines to offer India “at the moment,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a news conference.

But he said research by Oxford University experts sustained the AstraZeneca jab, and “this is the biggest contribution we can make, which actually comes from British science”, along with oxygen supplies.

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