The United States on Thursday announced that it will share more than six million, or 60 lakh, doses of the coronavirus vaccine with India, South Korea, Canada, Mexico and other countries. This is part of the 80 million, or 8 crore, doses that US President Joe Biden has promised to share with the rest of the world.

On Thursday, the US announced how the first 25 million (2.5 crore) doses of vaccines would be shared. Biden said this first batch is expected to address Covid-19 surges, high burdens of infections and the needs of the countries most vulnerable to the infection.

“At least 75% of these doses – nearly 19 million [1.9 core] – will be shared through COVAX, including approximately 6 million [60 lakh] doses for Latin America and the Caribbean, approximately 7 million [70 lakh] for South and Southeast Asia, and approximately 5 million [50 lakh] for Africa, working in coordination with the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.”

He added: “The remaining doses, just over 6 million, will be shared directly with countries experiencing surges, those in crisis, and other partners and neighbors, including Canada, Mexico, India, and the Republic of Korea.”

Biden said that US’ decision was not to “secure favors or extract concessions” but to save lives and bring an end to the pandemic. “The United States will be the world’s arsenal of vaccines in our shared fight against this virus,” he said. “In the days to come, as we draw on the experience of distributing the vaccine doses announced today, we will have more details to provide about how future doses will be shared. And we will continue to do all we can to build a world that is safer and more secure against the threat of infectious disease.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the US administration for the supplies.

Following a conversation with US Vice President Kamala Harris, Modi tweeted that he “deeply appreciates” the assurance of supplies to India. “We also discussed ongoing efforts to further strengthen India-US vaccine cooperation, and the potential of our partnership to contribute to post-Covid global health and economic recovery.”

Harris had herself called Modi and informed him about the vaccines, reported the Hindustan Times. Besides Modi, Harris also called Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei and Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley.

The US’ announcement comes at a time when the Narendra Modi government is trying to allay concerns about shortages of vaccine and ward off allegations of mishandling of the inoculation drive. Health experts have warned that India needs to increase its current pace of vaccination to reduce the impact of subsequent waves of the pandemic.

Earlier in the day, the Centre announced it has finalised a deal with Hyderabad-based Biological-E to reserve 30 crore coronavirus vaccine doses. The vaccine is currently undergoing phase 3 clinical trials.

On Tuesday, the drug regulator waived the requirement to conduct post-launch bridging trials for foreign-made coronavirus vaccines, in a move that is expected to bolster the availability of shots.

India on Thursday recorded 1,34,154 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, while deaths rose by 2,887. The country’s tally of infections now stands at 2,84,41,986 since the outbreak in January 2020. The toll has reached 3,37,989.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 has now infected over 17.10 crore people and killed over 35.61 lakh in the world since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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