Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US president Joe Biden had a telephonic conversation today — a day after US said it would send raw material needed to manufacture extra stocks of Covishield vaccine. The US came forward as the European Union, Germany, France and several other nations assured India of help to fight the ferocious second surge of the virus that has been infecting more than 3 lakh people for four consecutive days.
PM Modi tweeted that the two leaders discussed the Covid situation in both nations and that he thanked President Biden for his assurance of help.
“Had a fruitful conversation with @POTUS @JoeBiden today. We discussed the evolving COVID situation in both countries in detail. I thanked President Biden for the support being provided by the United States to India,” PM Modi’s tweet read..
My discussion with @POTUS@JoeBiden also underscored the importance of smooth and efficient supply chains of vaccine raw materials and medicines. India-US healthcare partnership can address the global challenge of COVID-19.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 26, 2021
The US will help with therapeutics, ventilators and identifying sources of raw materials to be made available for the manufacture of Covishield vaccines, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
In a statement, the PM’s office also said the two leaders also discussed “India’s ongoing efforts to contain the second wave of COVID-19 through expedited vaccination efforts, and ensuring supply of critical medicines, therapeutics and healthcare equipment”.
In a statement, the White House said: “The President pledged America’s steadfast support for the people of India who have been impacted by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases… the United States is providing a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics”.
The White House statement did not mention the surplus 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine, which is available in India as Covishield. The Biden administration has been under pressure over the fate of the stockpile, with many demanding that it be shipped where it is needed.
On Sunday, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirmed with his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval that the US will “immediately” make available the raw materials needed for Covishield manufacture in India.
Earlier this month, Serum Institute chief Adar Poonawalla had tweeted a request to the US President.
“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,” his tweet read.
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
With vaccination opening up for the 18-to 45-year age group from May 1 amid the Covid surge, India is expected to need huge stocks.
On Sunday, President Biden said the US is “determined” to help India in its “time of need”. “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,” he had tweeted.