The United States has said it will "immediately" provide the raw material required to ramp up production of the Covishield coronavirus vaccine by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
The raw material for the vaccine, along with other medical supplies and protective gear, will be sent to India on an urgent basis, said a top official in the US government.
The country's long request has finally been addressed following a huge outrage over the US wavering on providing vital supplies to India when the country is facing an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases. Emily Horne, spokesperson for the US National Security Council (NSC), confirmed the development in a statement. She also affirmed the same when asked about a telephonic conversation between National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and his US counterpart, Jake Sullivan.
"To help treat COVID-19 patients and protect front-line health workers in India, the United States has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will immediately be made available for India," said Emily Horne.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla sent out several tweets to US President Joe Biden over the last month, urging him to permit the export of raw materials needed for the production of COVID-19 vaccines to India. Biden had on February 5 invoked the Defense Production Act to scale up America's supply of materials required to produce vaccines, PPE (personal protective equipment), and COVID-19 tests. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had raised the issue as it knew this could hinder imports of critical drugs and supplies to India.
During his telephonic conversation with NSA Ajit Doval on Sunday, Jake Sullivan reaffirmed America's solidarity with India and dwelled upon the battles the two nations fought together against polio, smallpox, and HIV.
"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," said a statement by the US NSC.
It goes on to further state that the US is considering options to provide India with oxygen generation and related supplies immediately. The Biden administration has also deployed an expert team of public health advisors from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and US Aid to work closely with the US Embassy in Delhi and India's health ministry and Epidemic Intelligence Service staff.
The US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State had also tweeted earlier on Sunday expressing solidarity and extending assistance but had not clarified whether India's particular demand concerning the vaccine raw material would be fulfilled or not.
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