What next from Adar Poonawala?: Everyone in India is watching the space on the next from Adar Poonawala nervously. He is now in London, and he has said in an interview to The Times that he is considering the production of vaccines additionally in other countries. The indications so far point to diversification and addition rather than substitution. But continuing pressure from the government coupled with threats, that are both personal and related to business, seems to have driven Poonawala out, at least temporarily on a visit. Poonawala has spoken of aggressive calls from the most powerful people in India. The Serum Institute of India is the biggest vaccine producer in the world and is among the chief institutions to have earned India the title of the “pharmacy of the world”. Any dilution of that status would be a big blow to India.
Modi-Borish virtual meet: Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson are due to hold a virtual meeting Tuesday this week. The summit, due on Tuesday, will launch the ‘Roadmap 2030’ initiative agreed between the two governments in February. It had earlier been due for launch on April 26 but comes virtually now after Johnson’s visit had to be cancelled in the face of the second Covid wave in India. Cooperation over Covid will of course be the first item on the agenda. Britain has already offered India a thousand ventilators, and foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said Britain will send whatever India asks for.
Jaishankar in Britain: Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar is due in Britain this week to attend the G7 foreign and development ministers meeting. This meeting is held traditionally about a month ahead of the G7 meeting, due in Cornwall in Britain next month. Jaishankar is due also to have bilateral talks with British foreign secretary Raab. Prime Minister Modi is still scheduled to attend the G7 to be held between June 11 and June 13. But India will have to get a grip on the Covid situation very quickly and effectively for that visit to go ahead.
Britain sees more cases of Indian Covid variant: More than 400 cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 virus, as it has come to be known, have now surfaced in Britain. Three cases of the variant have now surfaced in France too, among people who have recently returned from India. Some recent cases indicate in fact two new variants linked to the Indian variant. But following an extensive investigation, British authorities still classify this as a variant under investigation, not a variant of concern. No evidence has been seen of widespread community transfer. The variants of concern are the original Kent version, and the South Africa and Brazil variants. The findings suggest that the Indian variant can be managed – but then it has to be managed.
Charity for Covid in India: A static cycling appeal at the Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden is aiming to raise half a million pounds for the Covid crisis in India. A bank of 12 bicycles has been set up at the temple, where each volunteer finds sponsors for an hour each on the bike – 50 minutes for cycling, and then ten minutes to sanitize it. The cycling idea is catching up. Temples in Leicester, about 100 miles north of London, and in Delhi joined in. So far about 750 riders have volunteered to have a go on the bikes.