10:24 GMT15 April 2021
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    LONDON (Sputnik) – The UK has opened secret diplomatic discussions with India in an attempt to ease alleged export restrictions put by the Indian government on 5 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine that are threatening to delay the UK’s immunization program, the Mail Online reported on Friday.

    The tabloid quoted a government source as saying that there was a constructive dialogue underway to work through with counterparts in New Delhi.

    The Mail Online also claimed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman did not deny the report about the UK being in talks with India.

    On Wednesday, the National Health Service warned of an incoming "significant reduction" of vaccine supplies that could leave people under the age of 50 waiting an extra month for their first dose.

    Health minister Matt Hancock has admitted that there was a delay in the scheduled arrival of five million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine from the Serum Institute of India.

    The official told lawmakers on Thursday that the UK had also delayed the delivery of 1.7 million doses to have their stability retested.

    Asked about the issue during a government’s briefing on Thursday evening, Johnson denied claims that the Indian government was behind the shipment delay, adding that it was caused by technical problems.

    "There is a delay, but this is by no means the end of the story of the UK’s relationship with [Serum Institute of India]. We hope to make further progress over the weeks and months ahead," the prime minister said.

    Both Johnson and Hancock stressed that despite the upcoming shortfall in vaccines people who have had their first dose will get the second jab to complete the treatment within the 12-week gap.

    They also insisted that the issue will not either affect the government’s plan to have offered all adults in the UK the opportunity to get a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July or the roadmap out the lockdown.

    More than 25.7 million people in the UK had received at least one dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines, as coronavirus cases and deaths have dropped to their lowest levels since September.

    vaccine, AstraZeneca, COVID-19, UK, India
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