US Vice-President Kamala Harris spoke to PM Narendra Modi to brief him about the Biden administration’s new vaccine policy that will clear supply chains for AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccine, helping boost production of Serum Institute of India’s Covishield.
The US also launched a vaccine sharing initiative where it would share 25 million doses with dozens of countries around the world, including India. The White House told journalists it would be lifting restrictions on export of components for AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, which will help SII to substantially increase vaccine production.
"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. I also thanked her for all the support and solidarity from the US government, businesses and Indian diaspora,” PM Modi tweeted.
US decision to allow SII to boost vaccine production
An official readout of the Modi-Harris conversation said Harris briefed Modi about “US plans to make vaccines against Covid-19 available to other countries, including India, under its ‘Strategy for Global Vaccine Sharing’. The leaders discussed ongoing efforts to strengthen the health supply chain between the US and India, including in the area of vaccine manufacturing. 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”.
At a briefing, Jake Sullivan, the US NSA, said, “President made a commitment to ensure that India received doses and giving them an allocation not just under the regional portion of this through COVAX but an additional allocation from our discretionary portion...was something he wanted to do.” He said the US would share 80 million doses by the end of June, but that this is only the beginning of the US sharing vaccines with other countries without any pre-conditions.”
According to a fact-sheet issued by the US, approximately 7 million doses would be sent to India and several other Asian countries. The White House announcement came after US President Joe Biden announced his administration’s decision to distribute the first 25 million of 80 million AstraZeneca vaccines to a host of different countries around the world.
The US decision will allow SII, which manufactures both the AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, to swiftly increase production. India’s vaccine demand has become acute after a second surge of a mutant strain of the coronavirus took a heavy toll in the past seven weeks. Swift vaccination is seen to be the only way out of the pandemic.