The US, on the issue of exporting raw materials to India, has said that it has to first take care of the requirements of Americans. US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that it is in the interest of the world to see Americans vaccinated.
During a press briefing on Thursday, Price was asked if President Joe Biden's administration had made a decision on India's request to relax export of vaccine raw materials. "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," said Price.
He then said that the US will always do as much as they can, consistent with their first obligation.
Earlier this month Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawala urged Biden to allow exports of material crucial for vaccine manufacturing. "If we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the US, I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the US so that vaccine production can ramp up," he said.
Price said, "What I will say broadly is that the US first and foremost is engaged in an ambitious and effective and, so far, successful effort to vaccinate the American people. That campaign is well underway, and we're doing that for a couple of reasons. Number one, we have a special responsibility to the American people. Number two, the American people, this country has been hit harder than any other country around the world -- more than 550,000 deaths, tens of millions of infections in this country alone," he said.
The US has invoked the Defence Production Act that curtails the export of raw materials, and in turn boosting vaccine production in the country.
However, Price acknowledged that the spread of coronavirus elsewhere is also a threat to everyone. "The point the Secretary (Blinken) has made repeatedly is that as long as the virus is spreading anywhere, it is a threat to people everywhere," he said.
He said that as long as the virus spreads uncontrollably in the country, it can mutate and travel beyond their borders, posing a threat well beyond the US. Price said that US is playing a 'leadership role' in 'seeking to contain the virus' beyond their borders.
Price cited the US joining the World Health Organisation and contributing $2 billion to the COVAX facility as well as sending vaccines to neighbours Canada and Mexico.