Biden pledges US ‘steadfast support’ for India in fighting Covid

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New York–Having lifted the ban on the supply of vaccine raw materials and Covid-fighting products for India, President Joe Biden on Monday assured Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the US will work closely with India to fight the pandemic.

“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 White House said in a readout of their conversation.

“The two leaders resolved that the United States and India will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the effort to protect our citizens and the health of our communities,” it said.

In a tweet, Modi called their conversation “fruitful” and said: “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.”

He added that Biden “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”.

“Modi expressed appreciation for the strong cooperation between both countries,” the White House said.

It said that responding to the surge in Covid cases in India, “the United States is providing a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics”.

Washington said on Saturday that it will send the vaccine raw materials immediately to India ending the ban on their exports as well as those of some products needed to combat Covid-19.

The announcement was made after a conversation between National Security Advisers Jake Sullivan of the US and Ajit Doval of India.

Sullivan told Doval that Washington “also is pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis,” Sullivan’s spokesperson Emily Horne said.

Sullivan assured Doval that “the United States is working around the clock to deploy available resources and supplies”, she said.

The US will also send India anti-Covid supplies like test kits, ventilators, medications and personal protective equipment used by frontline workers, she said.

The lifting of the ban is a turn around for the US, which had insisted last week that its priority was helping Americans get vaccinated.

Responding to a question on the calls for permitting the exports of Covid-19 products under embargo, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday that the “first obligation” was to the American people and added: “It’s in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated.”

The ban on the exports of Covid-fighting materials was ordered by then President Donald Trump under the Defence Production Act and had been continued by Biden. (IANS)

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