COVID-19: US to send raw material 'urgently required' by Indian vaccine makers
New Delhi, Apr 25: The Biden administration will "immediately" make available sources of raw materials urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine, a critical shortage of which has been flagged by several states as India battles a devastating second wave of infections.
The US decision came following a telephonic telephonic conversation between US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval.
"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," Emily Horne, spokesperson of the National Security Council of White House said after the phone call between Sullivan and Doval.
COVID-19 raw material from US: Here are the key highlights
- The United States has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India.
- To help treat Covid-19 patients and protect front-line health workers in India, the United States has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will immediately be made available for India.
- The United States also is pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis.
- The US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is 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.
Since the US has ramped up the production of COVID-19 vaccines mostly by Pfizer and Moderna so as to meet the goal of vaccinating its entire population by July 4, the suppliers of its raw material, which is in high demand globally and sought after by major Indian manufacturers, are being forced to provide it only for domestic manufacturers.
Among other things, the DPA, that was enacted in 1950, authorises the president to require businesses to accept and prioritise contracts for materials deemed necessary for national defence, regardless of a loss incurred on business.
The issue received global attention in recent days after Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII), tagged President Biden in a tweet.
Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details," he tweeted.
The SII is the world's largest producer of COVID-19 vaccine. Neither the US nor India has released details of the raw material that it is asking from the US.