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After massive criticism and NSA-level talks, USA lifts export ban over vaccine raw material needed by SII

The United States has finally decided to send raw material for Covid-19 vaccines to India. It will also send medical equipment and protective gear to support India amidst a massive surge in Covid-19 infections. On April 26, President Joe Biden said, “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.” The US was under immense pressure to provide support to India after countries including Russia, Britain, Germany, and France extended a helping hand.

Emily Horne, spokesperson for, National Security Council, said that the US officials are working around the clock to deploy ‘available resources and supplies’ to India for Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing. She added that the US is also exploring options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies to India. Horne said the US will send a team of experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Agency for International Development to work with India.

It has to be noted that the United States had banned the export of essential raw materials like bags, valves etc., after which Serum Institute had expressed helplessness in pacing up the vaccine production. The US is reportedly sending therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits and ventilators as well.

Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla had appealed to the US government multiple times to lift the embargo over vaccine raw materials. Citing export laws, the US government had halted the export of some critical raw material needed for the production of the Covishield vaccines.

Decision after NSA-level talks

The US government’s decision to lift the embargo and export critical material to India came after a discussion between India’s NSA Ajit Doval and his US counterpart Jake Sullivan.

Sullivan’s statement said, “the US has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine that will be made available for India.” The statement also included that USA will send supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostics test kits, PPEs, and ventilators too.

US lawmakers urging Biden admin to export unused AstraZeneca vaccines too

Ro Khanna, the Democratic vice-chair of the Congressional India Caucus, welcomed the US’s decision and urged the Biden administration to send unused Covid-19 vaccine doses of AstraZeneca as well to India. He said, “Let’s use the US military and get as much oxygen and AstraZeneca doses to India as fast as we can.” Notably, the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved in the United States, resulting in stockpiling of millions of doses. The AstraZeneca vaccine is not approved by US FDA, so the doses are lying unused in the country.

According to the top health officials, the US already has enough doses of approved versions by three other companies to vaccinate all Americans in the coming weeks. Top business lobbying group also pushed the Biden administration to send the vaccines to countries that are experiencing a rise in the cases. However, the US government did not comment on any such possibility.

The US Development Finance Corporation also announced financial support to Indian vaccine maker Biological E Ltd, or BioE, to enable them to produce at least 1 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2022.

It is notable here that after repeated requests by Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla, the US government was facing a widespread criticism from all levels for its continued embargo over critical raw material that was hindering the production of Covishield by SII, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

Britain sends medical equipment to India

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, United Kingdom, said on April 25 that over 600 medical devices, including oxygen concentrators and ventilators, have been deployed to India to provide support during the surge in Covid-19 cases.

Johnson said,” We stand side by side with India in the shared fight against COVID-19. Vital medical equipment is on its way from the UK to India to help stop the tragic loss of life from the virus, and we’ll continue to work closely with the Indian government during this difficult time.”

Alex Ellis, the British High Commissioner to India shares a message in Hindi, stating that UK stands with India in the time time of difficulty.

The Foreign Minister of Britain said that the equipment came from the surplus stock, and the first shipment will reach India early on Tuesday.

 

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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