New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government will import Covid-19 test kits and other medical devices from the United States even as American firms have expressed their intent to sell these products to India, according to Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
According to the ambassador, Prime Minister Modi and US President Donald Trump had “agreed to deploy the full strength of the India-US partnership to fight the Covid-19 pandemic” as the outbreak began.
“We are engaged with the US side for procurement of RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription–Polymerase Chain Reaction) and rapid antibody test kits; RNA (Ribonucleic acid) extraction kits and other medical supplies as per our requirements. US companies have expressed interest in supplying to us, and in some cases, orders have already been placed,” he said in an exclusive interaction with ThePrint over email.
India, which is looking to ramp up its testing capabilities, halted the use of the rapid antibody test kits it imported from China after reports emerged that they were faulty. China has vehemently denied this charge.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had earlier told ThePrint that the government wants to be able to test at least a lakh people daily by 31 May.
Earlier this month, Trump decided to invoke the Defence Production Act (DPA) and put restrictions on the export of medical devices.
However, notwithstanding the move, the US has identified India as one of the friendly countries to send medical products to fight the pandemic.
US-India focus to include healthcare, pharma
Sandhu said India and the US are collaborating in several areas, including scientific research in diagnostics and therapeutics, to combat the pandemic and its future course.
He added that post the pandemic, both countries will give a renewed push to sectors such as healthcare and pharma in the bilateral relationship.
“Going forward, healthcare, pharma, medical research would remain important sectors for India-US collaboration as we confront the challenges emanating from the Covid-19 pandemic. India and US are great reservoirs of talent, technology, knowledge and innovation eco-system. Innovation will be the key driver in post-pandemic response and recovery,” he told ThePrint.
The US was among the first countries to receive the anti-malaria drug hyrdroxychloroquine and paracetamol from India. India had initially imposed a blanket ban on the drug’s export to regulate availability, but eased the restrictions later.
Trump had thanked Modi and stated that India’s decision “will not be forgotten”.
India has exported these drugs to over 70 countries so far, though it continues to be under the restricted list of export items.
Before the pandemic, the two countries had locked horns over price caps on high-end medical devices India was procuring from the US.
‘India still an attractive business opportunity for US’
Ambassador Sandhu also said that several American firms and businesses he has interacted with of late have indicated an “early recovery” from the Covid-induced economic downturn.
“From my interactions with the US industry leaders in the last few weeks, a key takeaway is that even though the world economy has been severely impacted by the pandemic, one can look forward to an early recovery,” he said.
He also said that US industry leaders continue to find India an “an attractive investment destination” for their businesses.
“Even as we work together to ensure smooth functioning of global supply chains, address challenges to international trade and connectivity, there is a clear recognition of immense opportunities and potential for advancing India-US business partnership.
“As we restart our respective national and global economic engines, India will remain an attractive investment destination for the US businesses,” he said
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