The United States on Sunday said it is rushing therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) to help treat Covid-19 patients and protect frontline health workers in India after scorching criticism of its tepid response to the dire pandemic crisis unfolding in the country. The US is also “pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis”, the White House National Security Council said in a statement.
US admin trolled for tepid response
The US will send raw materials for vaccines and step up financing aid for Covid-19 shot production, joining European countries in helping stem the world’s biggest surge in cases. Material needed to produce Covishield has been sourced and “will immediately be made available for India,” Emily Horne, a spokesperson for US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, said in a statement.
The announcements came more than 12 hours after two top Biden administration officials - Sullivan and secretary of state Antony Blinken - 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,” Blinken tweeted 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 US media. “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,” Sullivan followed up in a tweet a few minutes later.
In a statement, the White House said, Sullivan spoke over phone to his counterpart Ajit Doval and affirmed America’s solidarity with India - “the two countries with the greatest number of Covid cases in the world”.
“Building on the seven decade health partnership between the US and India - including battles against smallpox, polio, and HIV - they resolved that India and the US will continue to fight the global Covid-19 pandemic together. Just as India sent assistance to the US 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.
Biden phones Modi
On Monday evening PM Narendra Modi had a telephone conversation with Joe Biden, who assured India and its people of providing all assistance, according to sources. Biden invoked New Delhi’s help to the US during its crisis after his administration was trolled for ingratitude, given India’s exertions in providing vaccines for the US and many other countries at a time it thought it had the domestic situation under control. Vice president Kamala Harris drew criticism over her silence, particularly in light of her Indian heritage. The full-court press from Washington, which is viewed as a damage-control exercise, included defence secretary Lloyd Austin, the senior-most cabinet official in the Biden administration to visit India who assured Pentagon’s support. US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman said she had been in touch with Indian officials.