Kamala Harris dials Modi to assure India of vaccine supplies

Kamala HarrisModi hopes to welcome Harris in India soon after normalization of the global health situation.

Battling a deadly second coronavirus wave, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received an assurance from Vice President Kamala Harris of vaccine supplies from the US under its “Strategy for Global Vaccine Sharing.”

The Indian American leader spoke on phone with Modi Thursday after President Joe Biden announced that the US will donate six million of its unused coronavirus vaccine doses to India, Mexico, Canada and South Korea.

“Spoke to @VP Kamala Harris a short while ago. I deeply appreciate the assurance of vaccine supplies to India as part of the US Strategy for Global Vaccine Sharing,” said Modi in a tweet after the phone call.

“I also thanked her for the all the support and solidarity from the US government, businesses and Indian diaspora,” he wrote

“We also discussed ongoing efforts to further strengthen India-US vaccine cooperation, and the potential of our partnership to contribute to post-Covid global health and economic recovery,” he added.

“The leaders discussed ongoing efforts to strengthen the health supply chain between US and India, including in the area of vaccine manufacturing,” according to an official Indian statement issued later.

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“They highlighted the potential of the India-US partnership as well as the Quad vaccine initiative in addressing the long-term health impact of the pandemic,” it said.

Modi also expressed the hope to welcome Vice President Harris in India soon after the normalization of the global health situation, the statement added.

The Quad — made up of India, the US, Japan and Australia — had announced a plan in March for India to manufacture one billion vaccines with US and Japanese financing to be distributed to Asian countries using Australian logistics.

The donations are part of a first tranche of 25 million doses, of which 19 million will go to the Covax Facility, a WHO-led vaccine distribution mechanism among low- and middle-income countries. The remaining six million will be shared directly with 16 Asian nations including India.

The White House also announced it was lifting restrictions invoked under the Defense Production Act that will allow sharing of raw materials needed for the AstraZeneca, as well as Sanofi and Novavax vaccines, which are also not authorized in the US.

“As long as this pandemic is raging anywhere in the world, the American people will still be vulnerable,” Biden said. “And the US is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home.”

Overall, the White House aims to share 80 million doses globally by the end of June, most of them through Covax. Vaccine supplies from the US are in addition to the $100 million worth of supplies such as oxygen converters, PPE and therapeutics already sent by the Biden administration, along with relief worth $400 million more from private sector companies and individuals.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said the allocation formula was shaped by “factors” that included the goal of achieving global coverage, “surges and other specific urgent situations.”

“This is only the beginning,” Sullivan said, pointing to Biden’s commitment to share 80 million doses in all by the end of June.

Meanwhile, several US lawmakers, including Indian American House member Raja Krishnamoorthi welcomed Biden Administration’s decision to ship 25 million Covid-19 vaccines abroad, including India.

“I welcome the news that the Biden Administration will be sending 25 million vaccine doses to our partners abroad to help them combat their covid-19 outbreaks, but this is an unfortunately small step forward when drastic, rapid action is needed,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Krishnamoorthi, 47, said US can put more efforts in the direction.

“As coronavirus outbreaks continue to rage across the world, we’ve passed the time to talk about millions of doses —- we need to be talking about billions, and how we can distribute and administer them as soon as possible to save lives both abroad and in the United States,” he said.

“That means dramatically expanding our vaccine production capacity into the billions, our rate of vaccine procurement, and the scale of our international partnerships to ensure that vaccines reach those who need them, and that we effectively protect ourselves in the process,” he added.

Krishnamoorthi said that he will be introducing a legislation next week to address these challenges and to end the pandemic across the world to prevent new variants from sparking another Covid-19 outbreak in America.

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