NSA Ajit Doval’s call with US NSA Jake Sullivan jolted the entire US administration making them realise the urgency to be shown in sending raw materials to India for manufacturing its Covid-19 vaccines.
The call which seems to have brought about a change of heart, has also ignited a race amongst the US officials to extend unconditional support to India.
Tweets in this regard were made by some of the top officials of the US government.
US President Joe Biden expressed his determination to help India just as India assisted the US when the country’s health infrastructure was strained early in the pandemic.
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. https://t.co/SzWRj0eP3y— President Biden (@POTUS) April 25, 2021
In April 2020, at the beginning of coronavirus pandemic, India had relaxed blanket ban on export of hydroxychloroquine which to countries that needed it, especially the US. Hydroxychloroquine at that time was administered to combat coronavirus as not much information was available for treatment of patients at that time. The then US President Donald Trump had said that America will not forget this gesture. However, America did forget.
The U.S. is working closely with the Indian government to rapidly deploy additional support and supplies during an alarming COVID-19 outbreak. As we provide assistance, we pray for the people of India—including its courageous healthcare workers.— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) April 25, 2021
Vice-President Kamala Harris informed that the US government is working closely with the Indian government to tackle the crisis at hand.
I’ve been in close touch with FS @HarshVShringla and Amb @SandhuTaranjitS in recent days. The American people stand in solidarity with our friends in India during these difficult times. We are rapidly providing therapeutics, ventilators, PPE, raw material for vaccines, and more. https://t.co/2izPobvN8k— Wendy R. Sherman (@DeputySecState) April 25, 2021
Deputy State Secretary Wendy Sherman informed through her tweet that the US is sending ventilators, PPE and raw materials to India rapidly.
Extending support, Secretary Antony Blinken assured additional support to India’s health care heroes.
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.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) April 25, 2021
NSA Jake Sullivan expressed deep concerns and the will to ensure uninterrupted required medical supplies to India.
The U.S. is deeply concerned by the severe COVID outbreak in India. We are working around the clock to deploy more supplies and support to our friends and partners in India as they bravely battle this pandemic. More very soon.— Jake Sullivan (@JakeSullivan46) April 25, 2021
Assuring immediate help US NSA Jake Sullivan to NSA Ajit Doval said, “United States has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India.”
An official statement issued by Sullivan read, “US has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and PPE that will immediately be made available for India. US is also pursuing options to provide oxygen generation & related supplies on an urgent basis.”
Embargo on raw materials
Justifying invocation of the Defence Production Act which led to the curtailment of exports on raw materials for making the Covid-19 vaccines, the State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said, “We have a special responsibility to the American people. It’s, of course, not only in our interest to see Americans vaccinated, it’s in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated.”
The Biden administration thereafter came under severe criticism from across the globe, including from members and supporters of the Democratic party, for holding back the unused surplus COVID-19 vaccines to India when the country is facing a health crisis.
Citizens were quick to remind the Biden administration of the help extended by India for supplying hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug being cited as many as a game-changer in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 when no other scientific solution was available to fight the deadly pandemic.
The Indian manufacturers started to face a shortage of supplies since early April. Adar Poonawalla, CEO and owner of Serum Institute of India, took to Twitter to appeal to US President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on the export of raw materials essential to the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccine Covishield amidst the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic.
On April 16, 2021, Adar Poonawalla said that “if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details.”
Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details. 🙏🙏— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) April 16, 2021
Wanting to protest himself, Poonawalla in an interview with India Today remarked, “I wish I could go there and protest in the US myself to say that you are holding back critical raw material that are required for Covaxin and so many vaccine manufacturers in India and other parts of the world.”
However, Poonawalla assured that the shortage and the struggle to procure raw material will not prolong because in a few months, they will be able to develop other suppliers.
India receives aid from across the globe
India has received help in kind from many countries which were once supported by India while dealing with the pandemic.
After criticizing the slowdown of the export of vaccines from India, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed solidarity with the people of India and said that they are preparing a “mission to support” to aid India’s fight against the pandemic.
The European Union (EU) has also pledged its support to India amid the second wave of coronavirus.
“The EU together with its member states will do its utmost to support India in this difficult moment,” said Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the European Union to India and Bhutan in a tweet.
India has also received backing from the UK government with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeting, “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.”
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.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 25, 2021
France too has come forward to supply a significant supply of medical oxygen in the coming days to curb the acute shortage being faced by the country.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is shipping 80 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen to India as the nation is running low on supplies.
“Embassy of India is proud to partner with Adani group and M/s Linde in shipping much-needed 80MT liquid oxygen to India. Our heartfelt thanks to the Ministry of Health Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for all their help, support, and cooperation, the Indian mission in Riyadh tweeted.
Embassy of India is proud to partner with Adani group and M/s Linde in shipping much needed 80MT liquid oxygen to India. Our hearfelt thanks to Ministry of Health Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for all their help, support and cooperation.@MEAIndia @drausaf @SaudiMOH @HMOIndia pic.twitter.com/6j8NuGwtCB— India in Saudi Arabia (@IndianEmbRiyadh) April 24, 2021
India fighting Covid
Meanwhile, in the past 24 hours India has recorded 219,272 discharges taking the overall recoveries to 14,304,382.
As per Ministry of Health data, more than 141 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered as of 8 am today.