Following a phone call between NSA Ajit Doval and his American counterpart, the US has decided to export raw material required by Indian vaccine makers and deploy a team of experts to help India tide over the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The United States on Sunday identified sources of specific raw material urgently required by Pune-based Serum Institute of India to produce the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine – Covishield. This raw material will be made available to India immediately, said a top official in the US government.
India’s long pending request has finally been heard after massive outrage over America dithering on providing critical supplies to India when the country is facing a crisis.
A statement in this regard was issued by Emily Horne, spokesperson of the US National Security Council (NSC). Horne confirmed the same when asked about a phone call between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his American counterpart, Jake Sullivan.
“To help treat Covid-19 patients and protect front-line health workers in India, the United States has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will immediately be made available for India,” said Emily Horne.
Over the last month, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla sent out multiple tweets to US President Joe Biden, asking him to allow the export of raw material required for the production of Covid-19 vaccines to India.
On February 5, US President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to increase the country’s supply of materials needed to make vaccines, Covid-19 tests and personal protective equipment. The MEA had raised the issue since it knew this could hamper imports of critical drugs and supplies to India.
US determined to help India in its time of need
During his phone call with NSA Ajit Doval on Sunday, Jake Sullivan affirmed America’s solidarity with India and recounted the battles the two countries have fought together against smallpox, polio, and HIV.
“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” said a statement by the US NSC.
The statement goes on to add that the United States is pursuing options to provide India with oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis. An expert team of public health advisors from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and US Aid are being deployed to work in close coordination with the US Embassy in Delhi and India’s health ministry and Epidemic Intelligence Service staff.
Earlier on Sunday, the US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State had tweeted expressing solidarity and extending assistance but had not specified whether New Delhi’s specific demand related to vaccine raw material would be fulfilled or not.
Antony Blinken had said in a tweet, “Our hearts go out to the Indian people in the midst of the horrific COVID-19 outbreak. We are working closely with our partners in the Indian government, and we will rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India and India’s health care heroes.”
“The US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is funding a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for BioE, the vaccine manufacturer in India, enabling BioE to ramp up to produce at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022,” said the statement by the US National Security Council.