Facing a vaccine shortage amid surging infections and a lack of timely oxygen supplies by some hospitals, India has urged the US to lift a ban on the export of key vaccine materials. So far, however, New Delhi has seen its requests being stonewalled, with the US President Joe Biden administration signalling earlier this week it will focus on Americans getting the jab.
As India’s coronavirus situation continues to deteriorate, the White House pledged to “quickly” provide “additional support” to New Delhi on Saturday, but did not offer much detail. In a statement to Reuters, a White House spokeswoman said that the US has been involved in high-level talks with India, promising to release more information soon.
“We will have more to share very soon,” she told the agency.
The statement comes as the world’s largest business lobbying group, health experts and lawmakers are calling on the White House to donate or release the vaccine stockpiles it is not using to hardest-hit countries.
On Friday, The United States Chamber of Commerce said the Biden administration should “release millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses in storage—as well as other life-saving support” to India, Brazil and other nations overwhelmed by the pandemic.
“This move would affirm U.S. leadership, including in initiatives such as COVAX, and as we work with partners around the globe because no one is safe from the pandemic until we are all safe from it,” the group said.
New Delhi-born US Democratic congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi made a similar plea on Saturday, citing the dire situation in India, which recorded 346,786 new cases and 2,624 deaths on Saturday, breaking its own record of new daily infections for the third day in a row.
“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,” Krishnamoorthi stated.
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