New Delhi: US politician Andy Kim Monday urged the Joe Biden administration to aid India’s efforts in tackling the devastating second wave of the pandemic that has crippled health infrastructures across the country.
In a long Twitter thread, Kim, who serves as the US Representative from New Jersey’s 3rd congressional district, urged the US president to announce “strong initial steps” to assist India’s Covid response and also asked him to release the unused stock of the AstraZeneca vaccines to the country.
“This is India’s moment of need and America must answer the call to help. Biden admin announced strong initial steps. I urge Biden to now authorize release of AstraZeneca vaccine to India and other allies. Alliances are tested in the darkest of days, and we must step up,” he tweeted.
Kim, a former diplomat, called the recent surge in cases in India a “true crisis” and also highlighted the underreporting of deaths.
India accounts for nearly half of all new cases globally if you only count the numbers reported (millions in last week) Mass cremations across India tell story of vast underreporting as numbers are undoubtedly higher. It’s a true crisis. 2/9 pic.twitter.com/vFN2Nb00Sl
— Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) April 26, 2021
He further called on Biden to “break down the barriers” that prevent him from assisting countries that need vaccines and said that US can help India by sending “tens of millions of AstraZeneca vaccines” that are in stock in the country.
“The U.S. has tens of millions of AstraZeneca vaccines in stock. These aren’t even approved for use in the U.S. at this time, but they are in many other places across the world. We should break down the barriers preventing us from sending them to the countries that need it”, he said.
The US representative added that these vaccine doses can be handed over to India without “missing a beat in US domestic response” since the US has procured enough Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to inoculate every American.
US can ‘do better and more’
In his nine-tweet thread, Kim, who is the first Democratic Congress member of Korean descent, also said that the US administration’s decision to help India with the export of raw material for vaccine production was the right move. However, he added that the US can “do better and more”.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had a phone call with his American counterpart Jake Sullivan Sunday, during which the US assured immediate supplies of specific raw materials that are needed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to ramp up the production of Covid vaccines.
According to Kim, India’s Covid crisis is one of the first major tests of American global leadership in this new era and that the country’s strategic strengths are its allies and partners.
He also highlighted that India came to US’ aid early last year. “When the U.S. needed help early in this pandemic, India came to our aid. It’s time that we show them, and the rest of the world, that America’s word is America’s deed. We can show the power of America as an ally”.
In May last year, India had exported 50 million tablets of hydroxychloroquine on then US President Donald Trump’s request. At the time, it was believed that HCQ could aid in tackling the respiratory symptoms of Covid-19, a theory that has been disproved since.
Kim also slammed China and Russia for engaging in vaccine diplomacy and said they used their vaccines to gather favour globally. He said the US, in contrast, leads with values but noted that “our values mean nothing without action”.
“We cannot lead a post-COVID world if we sit out the fight that our allies face to put this pandemic to an end. Let’s show the world what we can do. It’s time to release these vaccines and save lives. That is American leadership,” the US politician said.
India reported a record 3,52,991 new cases of Covid and 2,812 deaths in the past 24 hours. The country continues to face an acute shortage of medical supplies, especially oxygen and hospital beds.
(Edited by Rachel John)