U.S. to provide vaccine components, medical supplies as India battles COVID-19 spike
The United States will immediately send raw materials for COVID-19 vaccines, medical equipment and protective gear to help India respond to a massive surge in coronavirus infections, U.S. President Joe Biden said in late April 2021.
“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,” President Biden said on Twitter after the White House announced a list of measures.
U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said officials were “working around the clock” to deploy available resources and supplies to help India manufacture the Covishield vaccine and treat COVID-19 patients. The U.S. will also send therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits and ventilators.
Britain, France and Germany also pledged aid to India, the world’s largest democracy.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged citizens to get vaccinated and exercise caution, as the country set a global record for new COVID-19 infections in a single day.
The U.S. was also pursuing options to provide India with oxygen generation and related supplies, Horne said.
U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, Democratic vice chair of the Congressional India Caucus, welcomed the announcement and urged the administration to also provide India with the U.S.’s unused COVID-19 vaccines doses from AstraZeneca.
“Let’s use the U.S. military and get as much oxygen and AstraZeneca doses to India as fast as we can,” he said.
White House officials later confirmed plans to share up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, pictured, with other countries as soon as safety regulators approve its use. They said 10 million doses manufactured in the U.S. could be shipped within weeks, CBS News reported April 27.
The U.S. has stockpiled millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine pending its approval, and top U.S. health officials have said they have enough doses of approved vaccines by three other drugmakers to inoculate the U.S. population in coming weeks.
Senior U.S. officials have expressed concern that new variants of the virus emerging in India could undermine progress made elsewhere in fighting the pandemic. The new wave of infections also threatens the economic recovery of India, the world’s sixth-largest economy.
Horne said the U.S. would send a team of experts to India from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In addition to the immediate aid, the U.S. Development Finance Corp. will fund a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for Indian vaccine maker Biological E Ltd., enabling the company to produce at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022.
IMAGE CREDIT: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS