As India struggles to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, its QUAD ally — the US — has nothing more to offer than “deepest sympathy”. Interestingly, India’s adversary China says it’s ready to provide its neighbor with any kind of support.
India is racing to boost vaccine production as the government is trying to expand the inoculation drive to cover the country’s young population as well. However, the US has not clearly spelled out yet if it would supply the required raw materials.
Interestingly, the US-led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or QUAD had pledged cooperation to the COVID-19 pandemic among other issues, during the first-ever summit of the bloc last month.
India, the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world, imports the raw materials from other countries, and the bulk of them comes from American. However, the Biden administration has put a curb on the export of these items under a wartime law, the US Defence Production Act.
On Thursday, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki was quoted as saying by the media, “The United State offers its deepest sympathy to the people of India who are clearly suffering during the global pandemic”.
Earlier, defending the ban on the export of vaccine raw materials, a State Department official had stressed the ‘Americans First’ policy.
As the Quad works towards a free, open, secure, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific, @POTUS @JoeBiden, PM @ScottMorrisonMP, PM @sugawitter and I write about our shared vision. https://t.co/S4so5NWtC9
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 14, 2021
To a question, if Washington would lift the curbs on the export of raw materials to India, State Department spokesperson Ned Price was quoted by news agency PTI as saying: “…the United States first and foremost is engaged in an ambitious and effective and, so far, successful effort to vaccinate the American people. “
“That campaign is well underway, and we’re doing that for a couple of reasons. Number one, we have a special responsibility to the American people. Number two, the American people, this country has been hit harder than any other country around the world more than 550,000 deaths, tens of millions of infections in this country alone,” he added.
India approved two vaccines in January — Covaxin which is the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV) and Covishield which is developed by Oxford-Astrazeneca and produced in India by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Besides, India has recently approved the Russian Sputnik V vaccine developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute. According to BBC, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, a Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company, will be importing the first batch of 125 million doses to India during this quarter.
With the sudden spike in the number of Covid patients, India’s pharmaceutical sector has been working on war footing to boost vaccine productions. However, Washington’s response seems far from satisfactory.
According to the official data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), India has over 2.5 million active cases and vaccinated over 130 million people as of April 24, 2021.
Although the federal government has claimed that it has put in place the “world’s largest vaccine drive”, the efficiency of the inoculation drive has been questioned. Besides, the country is facing an acute shortage of medical-grade oxygen and looking at various options to scale up the oxygen supply to hospitals.
In recent months, the Narendra Modi government has sent Made-in-India vaccines to many countries in Asia, Africa, Middle East besides the UK and Canada under its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative.
India’s pharmaceutical sector is now working on a war footing to boost vaccine production amid the rising number of patients. However, Washington’s response is far from satisfactory.
Meanwhile, despite their territorial disputes, China has reiterated its offer of support to India in tackling the Covid crisis. According to The Times of India, the Modi government has not ruled out the possibility of roping in Chinese firms for medical supplies, including oxygen.
“The Chinese government and the people firmly support the Indian government and their people in their fight. Based on the need of the Indian side, we stand ready to offer support and assistance. We are now holding communications with the Indian side,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing.