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Joe Biden pledges support to PM Modi on vaccine inputs, key supplies

According to the statement, PM Modi conveyed his heartfelt appreciation for the offer of assistance and support from the US.

US President Joe Biden spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday and pledged America’s “steadfast support for the people of India” hit by the unprecedented surge in Covid cases that has hit a record high in both case count and daily deaths.

The United States will provide a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics, a White House statement said about the call. “India was there for us, we will be there for them,” Biden tweeted later.

This comes after criticism of Washington over its delay in responding and its earlier cold shoulder to a request for lifting the freeze on export of raw materials linked to vaccine manufacturing.

In what suggests that vaccines could also be shipped, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy announced on Twitter that the US plans to share AstraZeneca doses with the world: “Sixty million doses to be shared as they become available. Global pandemics require global cooperation.”

The Biden-Modi call came a day after US NSA Jake Sullivan dialled his counterpart NSA Ajit Doval Sunday and conveyed to him that “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”.

A PMO statement said that Biden and Modi discussed the Covid-19 situation in their respective countries, including India’s ongoing efforts to contain the second wave through expedited vaccination, and ensuring supply of critical medicines, therapeutics and healthcare equipment.

“President Biden conveyed solidarity with India and affirmed that the United States was determined to support India’s efforts by quickly deploying resources such as therapeutics, ventilators and identifying sources of raw materials to be made available for the manufacture of Covishield vaccines,” the statement said.

According to the statement, Modi conveyed his “heartfelt appreciation” for the offer of assistance and support from the US government and mentioned India’s commitment to contain the Covid pandemic globally through Vaccine Maitri, and its participation in Covax and the Quad Vaccine Initiatives.

“The Prime Minister underscored the need to ensure smooth and open supply chains of raw materials and inputs required for manufacture of vaccines, medicines, and therapeutics related to Covid-19”, it said.

Hours after the Biden call, Beijing, too, has made a direct offer to help. Chinese Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that Beijing is concerned about the “grave situation” in India, and is ready to help “if India tells us its specific needs.”

Following up, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong said that Beijing supports India and will encourage Chinese firms to facilitate medical supplies to India.

This when the two countries are in a year-long border standoff that has clouded the bilateral relationship.

The Chinese Ambassador tweeted: “China firmly supports India in fighting against Covid-19. We will encourage and guide Chinese companies to actively participate into the cooperation in facilitating various needed medical supplies for India.”

Besides Biden, other top US administration officials also came out with strong statements of support and assistance.

US Vice President Kamala Harris said that the US is “working closely” with the Indian government to rapidly deploy additional support and supplies . “As we provide assistance, we pray for the people of India—including its courageous healthcare workers,” she tweeted.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin also said that he has directed the Pentagon to use every resource at its disposal to support U.S. interagency efforts to provide India’s frontline healthcare workers with the materials they need.

Outlining the “concrete steps being taken by the United States to help address the crisis”, Surgeon General Murthy said that the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 anywhere presents a threat to all nations.

He said that the aid extended by the US to India includes, raw material for vaccine production, therapeutics, rapid diagnostic kits, ventilators, oxygen generation & related supplies, financial support for vaccine manufacturing expansion and deployment of CDC and USAID public health teams.

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