The United States also is “pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis,” the White House National Security Council said in a statement.
The announcement came more than 12 hours after two top Biden Administration officials pledged Washington would deploy additional support and supplies to help India meet its surging Covid-19 challenge that some experts warn could shut down the world again.
“Our hearts go out to the Indian people in the midst of the horrific Covid-19 outbreak. We are working closely with our partners in the Indian government, and we will rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India and India’s health care heroes,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted on Saturday night after Washington, specifically the Biden-Harris dispensation, was trolled and lacerated on social media for its tepid response to India’s plight, highlighted in graphic stories and visuals in the US media on the mounting death toll from Covid-19 infections.
“The US is deeply concerned by the severe Covid outbreak in India. We are working around the clock to deploy more supplies and support to our friends and partners in India as they bravely battle this pandemic. More very soon,” White House National Security Advisor, followed up in a tweet a few minutes later.
In a statement issued Sunday morning, the White House said, Sullivan spoke by phone to his counterpart Ajit Doval and affirmed America’s solidarity with India, “the two countries with the greatest number of Covid-19 cases in the world.”
“Building on the seven-decade health partnership between the United States and India —including battles against smallpox, polio, and HIV — they resolved that India and the United States will continue to fight the global Covid-19 pandemic together. 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,” the statement said.
The NSC statement said the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is also funding a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for BioE, the vaccine manufacturer in India, enabling BioE to ramp up to produce at least 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2022.
Additionally, the United States is deploying an expert team of public health advisors from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and USAID to work in close collaboration with the US Embassy, India’s health ministries, and India’s Epidemic Intelligence Service staff. USAID will also quickly work with CDC to support and fast-track the mobilization of emergency resources available to India through the Global Fund, it added.
“Spoke today with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval about the spike in Covid cases in India and we agreed to stay in close touch in the coming days. The United States stands in solidarity with the people of India and we are deploying more supplies and resources,” Sullivan tweeted shortly before the detailed statement, ahead of which the narrative of Americans offering mere lip service dominated social discourse even as scores of activists and public figures urged the administration to rush urgently needed aid, including its vaccine surplus.
We are supporting our Indian friends with medical equipment to help them in the battle against Coronavirus. We will… https://t.co/ELCG57JnF1
— Alex Ellis (@AlexWEllis) 1619364136000
“Ship them the damn vaccines. We the taxpayers paid for that research not Pfizer et al. Release the patents and let others manufacture the vaccines,” read one message from an American national.
Even Democratic lawmakers joined the chorus. “We need to release our stockpile of unused AstraZeneca vaccines now. In India alone, almost 350,000 Covid-19 cases were reported today. When people in India and elsewhere desperately need help, we can’t let vaccines sit in a warehouse, we need to get them where they’ll save lives,” tweeted Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.
Some experts had warned that Washington’s lackadaisical response was causing it to lose hard-won public support in India considering even China and Pakistan, not to speak of Russia and EU, have stepped up to help New Delhi.
Sharp criticism was also directed at vice-president Kamala Harris, who has remained silent about the crisis in the country of her heritage — as has President Biden.
“I would like to hear our half-Indian Vice-President of the United States, @VP @KamalaHarris, speak up soon about the #Covid19 crisis in India and how we can help them. I hope she can speak soon,” tweeted epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding, who is warning that unless New Delhi vaccinates 10 million people a day, the death count could top a million by August.
The pressure on the Biden administration to first send its excess stockpile of vaccines to India and more broadly go easy on intellectual property issues specific to Covid vaccine, came amid reports of declining vaccination in the US
According to one account, an estimated five million people, eight per cent of the American population, who received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, have opted out of the second shot believing they are sufficiently protected by one shot. Some are fearful fo the side effects that is reported to be more severe than from the first shot. Many vaccination centers are shutting down or reporting low turnout.
“I just received my 2nd vaccine dose. I feel relieved but sad. I was at a mass vaccination center that was nearly empty. Plenty of vaccines for all. The contrast w/India couldn’t be sharper. Forget about strategic considerations-the US has a moral imperative to share its supplies,” said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia scholar at the Wilson Center.