Coronavirus: US will give steadfast support to India, Joe Biden tells PM Modi
The United States announced it intends to make available six crore doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said he spoke with United States President Joe Biden about the coronavirus crisis in India, discussing supply chains for Covid vaccine raw materials, healthcare equipment and medicines. On, Sunday Biden said his country would send medical supplies to India to help fight the pandemic.
Biden conveyed solidarity with India and affirmed that the United States was determined to support India’s efforts by quickly deploying resources such as therapeutics and ventilators. The US president also identified sources of raw material urgently needed for India’s manufacture of the Covishield, according to a release by the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Both leaders underlined the potential of the India-US partnership in vaccine development and supply to address the Covid-19 pandemic, and directed their respective officials to maintain close coordination and cooperation in their efforts in this domain,” it said.
The White House in a statement said Biden and Modi committed that they will work closely together in the fight against Covid. “The US president pledged America’s steadfast support for the people of India who have been impacted by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases,” it added.
Washington had been under increasing pressure to help India as it battles an unprecedented second wave of Covid-19 that has overwhelmed the country’s healthcare systems. Oxygen is running out, intensive care units are operating at full capacity and nearly all ventilators are in use.
With a large vaccine rollout in the US seeming to stabilise the pandemic, many public voices had begun talking about how the country should do more to addressing the surging pandemic in other countries, especially India.
On Sunday, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris promised help to New Delhi in its fight against the pandemic. The US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and promised to make available the raw material required to manufacture the Covishield vaccine.
Sullivan had also told Doval that the US will send a team of expert public health advisors to help the Indian government and work with the US Embassy in India.
US to share AstraZeneca vaccines
Meanwhile, hours after Biden and Modi’s conversation, the United States announced it intends to make available 60 million (six crore) doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries, once it clears safety reviews, reported the AP.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is widely in use around the world, including in India, but has not yet been authorised by the US Food and Drug Administration.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the donations of doses would not happen right away. She said about 10 million doses could be released “in the coming weeks” if the Food and Drug Administration determines that the vaccine meets “our own bar and our own guidelines”, reported The New York Times.
Psaki said the Biden administration is still deciding what the process will be to determine where and how it will share the vaccine. “We will consider a range of options from our partner countries and, of course, much of that will be through direct relationships,” she said.