The US is rushing a whole series of help, including life-saving drugs and machinery, that India needs to combat the massive surge in COVID-19 cases, President Joe Biden has said, as he again recalled New Delhi's assistance to America when it was in a "bind" due to the pandemic.
Biden spoke at length with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and conveyed solidarity with India in its fight against the viral disease.
"We are sending immediately a whole series of help that he needs, including providing for those Remdesivir and other drugs that are able to deal with this," Biden told reporters at a White House news conference on Tuesday.
"We are sending the actual mechanical parts that are needed for the machinery they have to build a vaccine, and that is being done as well," he said.
The president said he had discussed with Prime Minister Modi when the US would be able to send actual vaccines to India.
The Biden administration has come under criticism from several quarters, including from members and supporters of the Democratic Party, for not releasing surplus COVID-19 vaccines to India when the country is experiencing its worst-ever public health crisis.
"The problem is right now, we have to make sure we have other vaccines like Novavax and others coming on probably, and I think we will be in a position to be able to share vaccines as well as know-how with other countries who are in real need," Biden said.
"I might add when we were in a bind in the very beginning, India helped us," Biden said, referring to India, the largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, lifting the ban on the export of the medicine to the US after then President Donald Trump spoke to Modi on phone last year.
On Sunday Biden had tweeted that "Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need."
On Monday, Biden assured Modi that the United States and India will work closely together in the fight against COVID-19.
India is currently struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than 3,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days, and hospitals are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.
Biden pledged America's steadfast support for the people of India who have been impacted by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
In response, the United States is providing a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics.
Biden and Modi resolved that the United States and India will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the effort to protect our citizens and the health of our communities, the White House said in a readout of the telephonic conversation between Biden and Modi.
Meanwhile, American lawmakers applauded Biden for all the help he was extending to save the lives of people suffering from COVID-19 and urged him to do more.
"The US maintains a moral obligation to assist our ally India as they face severe challenges posed by COVID-19. We must take every necessary step to ensure the Indian people receive the aid and assistance they need to emerge from this crisis," Congressman Brad Sherman, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Tuesday.
"My heart goes out to the people of India and neighbouring nations as they fight an uphill battle with COVID. I'm glad that the White House is providing these life-saving vaccines, but we will need a strong, coordinated global response in the days ahead," Congresswoman Carolyn Boudreaux said.
Congressman Michael Waltz Press said India was an essential ally in America's global competition with China.
"Its strength is important to stability in Asia and the United States. We must do what we can to help them curb their new wave of COVID cases," he added.
Congressman Bill Foster said while America continues to make progress in battling this pandemic, the critical situation in India can't be ignored. Several other American lawmakers have also come out in support of India as its people battle one of the gravest challenges to its public health system. Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, too came out in support of India.
"Pursuing vaccine equity doesn't just advance our economic and health security it's a moral imperative. As a bastion of innovation & champion for marginalized people everywhere, the US must lead efforts to guarantee immunization access to EVERYONE at home & abroad, Menendez tweeted.
Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said he was pleased the US will be sending its AstraZeneca supply to India and other countries in need of it as he had urged earlier.
Senators Mark Warner and John Cornyn, co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus, in a letter to Biden, said they were watching with growing alarm the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations, and deaths, which have overwhelmed hospitals and the overall health system in India.
The pandemic has devastated populations and nations across the globe, making it very clear that the virus knows no borders. To control its spread globally, saving lives abroad and here at home, the US must do its part to attack the virus where it is most devastating and active, they wrote in the letter dated April 27.
"We write to urge you to accelerate US efforts to support other countries as they work to combat the COVID-19 virus," it said.
Over the weekend, the two jointly made a call to the White House, urging it to consider sending urgent help to India.
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