India is suffering an unprecedented spike in Covid cases and deaths, after a worrying 'double mutation' emerged there. Some commentators have said it 'is worse than World War Two'. Dr. Nilesh Parmar explains how the NHS could help the nation which has done so much for the UK.

The country of 1.4 billion could have avoided much of this if, rather than becoming 'the world's pharmacy' and agreeing to export hundreds of millions of vaccine doses, it had practised the same vaccine nationalism as, for example, the EU. Countries like Britain, who have a surplus of medical knowhow and personnel (and who have Covid deaths almost down to single figures) should return the favour – and now become the world's GP.

Countries from China, to Russia, to tiny Cuba have sent medical teams round the world during the pandemic. Britain should do more of this through the NHS which is, as we are often told, the 'envy of the world'. India's vaccine manufacturing capacity is also the envy of the world – and that didn't stop them sharing it.

Referring to India's vaccine exports, the Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said "I have to admit that this is easily one of the most notable acts of benevolence we have seen in the last 100 years."  More world leaders should echo him – and return the favour.

India, so far, has sent the best part of 100 million doses of vaccines to 71 countries, many in the global south.

6 million have been provided for free, as part of the COVAX programme. Indian generosity is not limited to vaccines: the country has exported more than 20 million PPE kits, and 40 million N-95 masks, as well as supplied 100 countries with hydroxychloroquine.

India's 'Vaccine Maitri', or Vaccine Friendship scheme has come with remarkably few diplomatic or political strings attached.

This is a very different approach to that shown by the developed nations, representing only 15% of the world's population, which have bought up 60% of the world's vaccine doses.

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By the end of last year, Canada had bought up five times the supply it needed to cover it's population. Matt Hancock himself boasted that he "wasn't going to settle for a contract that allowed the Oxford vaccine to be delivered to others around the world before (the UK)."

Many of those countries, particularly the UK, are well on their way to normality – and have India to thank for it. Hospitals in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi are now at breaking point, and graveyards are at full capacity. All while the country faces a domestic vaccine shortage, while it produces 2.4 million AstraZeneca vaccines a day.

It may be politically impossible for places like the UK, the EU, the US and Canada to redirect some of their vaccine supplies back to India. But that shouldn't stop them providing the expertise and personnel that can make the difference.

As of the 15th of April, the UK had 2,671 new cases, compared with India's 216,850. What we lack in vaccine manufacturing we make up for in experienced, well-meaning vaccinated doctors, many of whom are of Indian heritage and would be all too happy to visit India as part of an NHS humanitarian mission.

Currently the UK's global humanitarian healthcare footprint is eclipsed by Cuba (which has a similar population to London, and one of the lowest GDPs). Today Cuba provides more medical personnel to developing countries than all of the G8 countries combined.

In Britain, we are rightfully proud of our NHS, especially as a result of its heroic response to the pandemic. We should emulate India's act of benevolence by exporting our expertise, just as they exported their Indian-made vaccines.

Many speak of the 'Great Reset' that we will face as we come out of the pandemic. That reset should apply to the way we think about humanitarian support and diplomacy too. Needs and capability flow around the world, just like demand and supply. India's rejection of vaccine nationalism is implicitly a rejection of nationalism itself.

If Britain and the NHS were to do the same, it would be the best advert for Global Britain that anyone could wish for. It would also send the important message that we remember who our friends are, and return favours.

If one of the legacies of the pandemic could be the NHS becoming a global humanitarian force as well as a much-loved public service at home, that would indeed be a silver lining to the darkest of clouds, and would be a recommitment to the British values that got us through the crises of the past, like World War Two.

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