The US on Sunday said it would remove bottlenecks in the export of raw materials essential for the production of vaccines in India on a day the UK announced that it was rushing ventilators and other critical equipment to help cope with an unprecedented surge in covid-19 infections in the country
NEW DELHI :
The US on Sunday said it would remove bottlenecks in the export of raw materials essential for the production of vaccines in India on a day the UK announced that it was rushing ventilators and other critical equipment to help cope with an unprecedented surge in covid-19 infections in the country.
Other countries too mobilized support to help a beleaguered India fight a ferocious second wave of covid-19 infections that has brought the health infrastructure to breaking point in many parts of the country.
On Sunday, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and conveyed that “the US has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India," a statement from the US administration said. The call comes against the backdrop of some hectic diplomacy between New Delhi and Washington as India’s overburdened health system urgently sought more vaccines, drugs and oxygen generation units, as well as looking to add capacity as hospitals run out of beds. It also comes amid some quarters expressing disquiet about the US not allowing exports in adequate quantities of materials required urgently for the production of vaccines, Mint has learnt.
India began vaccinating its population on 16 January, but the second wave of infections seems to have caught authorities off guard, leading to acute shortage of oxygen, key drugs, vaccines and hospital beds. New Delhi has been urging the US to lift restrictions on the export of 37 critical elements needed for the manufacture of vaccines, including the Oxford-AstraZeneca-developed Covishield in the country. The export of these elements is barred under the 1950 US Defence Production Act that authorizes the US President to direct firms to prioritize domestic needs.
During his call, Sullivan said the US had “identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment (PPE) that will immediately be made available for India" for frontline workers besides oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis.
“The US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is funding a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for BioE, the vaccine manufacturer in India, enabling (Hyderabad based) BioE to ramp up to produce at least 1 billion doses of covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2022," the US statement said.
That the US would move to remove supply chain bottlenecks for the manufacture of vaccines in India came overnight Sunday from messages of support posted on Twitter by both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Sullivan.
Meanwhile, India has also been tapping other partners.
“Upon request for assistance by #India, we have activated the #EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The EU will do its utmost to mobilize assistance to support people of India Our #ERCC is already coordinating EU MS that are ready to provide urgently needed #oxygen & medicine rapidly," Janez Lenarčic, European Commissioner for Crisis Management and European Emergency Response Coordinator, said in a Twitter post on Sunday.
The UK is sending ventilators and oxygen concentrator devices to help India’s overloaded health care system. A press statement from the British High Commission on Sunday said the UK was despatching more than 600 pieces of medical equipment. The aid is to arrive on Tuesday, with more promised by UK authorities. On Saturday, the Indian Air Force flew in four cryogenic oxygen containers from Singapore. More such containers are expected from the United Arab Emirates. Delhi is also sourcing oxygen generation units from Germany.
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