President Joe Biden on Tuesday has said that the US was "doing a lot for India" by sending it oxygen and materials to make anti-COVID-19 vaccines. He said that he had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and stated that what India needs the most is material and the parts to be able to have his machines that can make the vaccine work, which the US is sending.
Referring to the ingredients required for making the vaccines, Biden added that, "We're sending them a lot of the precursors,” adding that the US was also sending oxygen, which is scant in supply in the country amidst the painful COVID-19 resurgence.
"We're helping India significantly," he said.
Acknowledging support from India last year, when the US was suffering under deep crisis, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, "India came to our assistance early on in our hour of need when we were having real struggles with COVID-19, providing millions and millions, for example, of protective masks. We remember that, and we're determined to do everything we can to help now.”
He further stated, "What I've seen is an amazing mobilisation not just of the United States government, but of our private sector, and Indian Americans as well. I was on a call a week ago with virtually every leading CEO -- it was a who's who -- all wanting to help. And the government, our government, is coordinating those efforts. So we are doing everything we can."
Reporting on the assistance being provided to India, Biden's Spokesperson Jen Psaki stated that the US government is sending ingredients for manufacturing 20 million doses of Covishield vaccine from supplies that it had ordered. These were ingredients that had been ordered on a priority basis by requesting the Defence Production Act to supply to companies under contract to make vaccines for it.
The US is unlikely to need the 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that it had contracted because it has adequate supplies of the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Psaki said that the complete value of the COVID-19 aid will exceed $100 million, citing that 6 air shipments containing oxygen and oxygen supplies, N95 masks, rapid diagnostic tests, medicines and components requested by the Indian government have already been sent and has been funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
"At the request of the government of India, USAID provided these urgently needed supplies to the Indian Red Cross to ensure they reach those most in need as quickly as possible," she said.
India is in dreadful need of oxygen and USAID sent about 1,500 oxygen cylinders that will remain in India and can repeatedly be refilled locally, 550 concentrators to obtain oxygen from ambient air and a large-scale unit to support up to 20 patients, she said, adding around 2.4 million N95 masks have been sent and an additional 12.5 million are available if the Indian government asked for them.
Meanwhile, one million rapid diagnostic tests and 20,000 treatment courses of the antiviral drug Remdesivir have also been sent, Psaki informed.