Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

India to receive around 19mn doses of US vaccines: Envoy

Vice Prez Harris made a call to Modi to inform him about the USA govt decision

- Press Trust of India

WASHINGTON: India will be a “significan­t recipient” of US vaccines, the country’s envoy here has said as President Joe Biden announced details of his administra­tion’s decision to share 25 million Covid-19 shots to countries across the globe that have been facing vaccine shortages. Biden on Thursday said that the US will allocate 75 per cent - nearly 19 million of the first tranche of 25 million doses - of unused Covid-19 vaccines from its stockpile through the Un-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing programme to countries in South and Southeast Asia as well as Africa.

The move is part of his administra­tion’s framework for sharing 80 million vaccines globally by the end of June.

According to the White House, nearly 19 million vaccine doses will be shared through COVAX, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

“India will be a significan­t recipient of US vaccines as India has been included in both the identified categories in the allocation announced todaydirec­t supply to neighbours and partner countries, and under the COVAX initiative,” India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu said.

The Biden administra­tion had been under pressure to send the excess Covid-19 vaccines with the US to nations like India, which are facing severe vaccine shortages.

Vice President Kamala Harris personally made a call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to inform him about the administra­tion’s decision.

“I deeply appreciate the assurance of vaccine supplies to India as part of the US Strategy for Global Vaccine Sharing. I also thanked her for all the support and solidarity from the

US government, businesses and Indian diaspora,” the prime minister said in a tweet.

Officials in New Delhi said that Modi and Harris discussed ongoing efforts to strengthen the health supply chain between the US and India, including in the area of vaccine manufactur­ing.

They highlighte­d the potential of the India-us partnershi­p as well as the QUAD vaccine initiative in addressing the long-term health impact of the pandemic.

Sandhu described the phone call as “an important conversati­on” focusing on vaccines, post-covid global health and economic recovery.

“The removal of the Defence Production Act priority ratings would further strengthen vaccine supply chains including for manufactur­ers Astrazenec­a and Novavax,” Sandhu said, reflecting on other important decisions taken by the Biden administra­tion.

The removal of Defence Production Act priority ratings would let companies take their own decision on whom they want to sell their vaccines. “These developmen­ts are reflective of the firm commitment of the leadership of both India and US to work in partnershi­p on global issues,” Sandhu said. The Indian envoy on Thursday also had a substantiv­e discussion with US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy.

“We discussed India – US cooperatio­n to contain the global pandemic, including in vaccines, and potential collaborat­ions to ensure affordable healthcare,” Sandhu said in a tweet.

According to a White House fact sheet issued on Thursday, nearly 19 million vaccine doses will be shared.

Of these approximat­ely six million for South and Central America to the following countries: Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Haiti, and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, as well as the Dominican Republic.

Approximat­ely seven million for Asia to the following countries: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanista­n, the Maldives, Malaysia, Philippine­s, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, and the Pacific

Islands, the fact sheet said. Meanwhile, top American lawmakers, industry groups and Indian-americans welcomed the decision of the Biden Administra­tion to send coronaviru­s vaccines to other countries in need.

“I welcome the news that the Biden Administra­tion will be sending 25 million vaccine doses to our partners abroad to help them combat their COVID-19 outbreaks,” Indian-american Congressma­n Raja Krishnamoo­rthi said.

However, he called it a small step forward when drastic action is needed.

“As coronaviru­s outbreaks continue to rage across the world, we’ve passed the time to talk about millions of doses —we need to be talking about billions, and how we can distribute and administer them as soon as possible to save lives both abroad and in the United States,” he said.

“That means dramatical­ly expanding our vaccine production capacity into the billions, our rate of vaccine procuremen­t, and the scale of our internatio­nal partnershi­ps to ensure that vaccines reach those who need them and that we effectivel­y protect ourselves in the process,” he added.

Krishnamoo­rthi said he will be introducin­g a legislatio­n next week to address these challenges.

Senator Mitt Romney called it a “good first step.” “I continue to urge the administra­tion to ramp up its global vaccine distributi­on with a plan that considers urgent needs and regional priorities and I look forward to the next batch being allocated quickly,” Romney said. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Biden to set aside a portion from 80 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for India, which the top lawmaker said is now the epicentre of the pandemic.

India is currently witnessing the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. India on Friday reported 1,32,364 new coronaviru­s infections, taking the country’s total tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,85,74,350. The country’s COVID-19 death toll climbed to 3,40,702 with 2,713 fresh deaths.

In a letter to Biden, Schumer said India helped the US in the hour of need earlier by sending much needed protective personnel equipment.

“Now, it is time for us to give back and help the people of India,” he said in the letter dated June 1. “I ask that you set aside a portion from the 80 million doses the United States has said it will release over the next few months to the Republic of India,” he said.

The US Chamber of Commerce in a statement welcomed the efforts to boost global vaccine manufactur­ing and expand vaccine access, including the decision to distribute vaccine doses through the COVAX coalition and provide millions of additional doses directly to countries in need. Diaspora advocacy group, IMPACT also welcomed the decision.

“We are thankful the administra­tion has responded to the pleas of the Indian American community. But with over one billion people in India still waiting to get access to vaccines, we must do much, much more,” said Neil Makhija, executive director at IMPACT.

 ?? HT PHOTO ?? A beneficiar­y gets vaccinated against Covid-19 in Navi Mumbai on Friday.
HT PHOTO A beneficiar­y gets vaccinated against Covid-19 in Navi Mumbai on Friday.

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