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Modi, Biden talk ‘importance’ of supply chains as US extends India support to tackle Covid

The phone call comes a day after President Joe Biden tweeted that the US was 'determined' to help India as the latter did when America was in need.

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New Delhi: US President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a phone call late Monday, that there will be seamless transfer of American medical supplies to India, with the assurance coming amid widespread criticism of Washington for not coming to New Delhi’s aid in a crisis. 

“Had a fruitful conversation with @POTUS @JoeBiden today. We discussed the evolving COVID situation in both countries in detail. I thanked President Biden for the support being provided by the United States to India,” Modi tweeted late Monday evening. 

“My discussion with @POTUS @JoeBiden also underscored the importance of smooth and efficient supply chains of vaccine raw materials and medicines,” he added. “India-US healthcare partnership can address the global challenge of COVID-19.” 

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said Modi also told Biden about India’s “commitment to contain the Covid-19 pandemic globally through Vaccine Maitri, and its participation in COVAX and the Quad Vaccine initiatives”. 

“The Prime Minister underscored the need to ensure smooth and open supply chains of raw materials and inputs required for manufacture of vaccines, medicines, and therapeutics related to Covid-19,” the statement said. 

US vows steadfast support to India

According to a White House readout, the US has vowed to offer “steadfast support for the people of India who have been impacted by the recent surge in Covid-19 cases”. 

The White House said that during the call, President Biden also promised that the US will supply India with a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics.

“Prime Minister Modi expressed appreciation for the strong cooperation between both countries,” the White House said. “The two leaders 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 phone call comes a day after President Biden tweeted that the US was “determined” to help India as the latter did when America was in need. 


Test of ties

The US had come under considerable pressure to help India as the Modi government struggles to control the soaring number of Covid cases in the country.  

The chief criticism had been aimed at the US embargo on the supply of vaccine raw materials.

However, on Sunday, after several talks between both sides, including External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s conversation with his American counterpart Antony Blinken as well as a conversation between both national security advisors, the US agreed to treat India as an exception to its Defence Production Act (DPA), 1950, under which Washington has halted the export of raw materials critical for the production of Covid vaccines. 

The DPA was first invoked in 2020 by former US President Donald Trump with the outbreak of the pandemic. This was later continued by Biden as it gives authority to the US President to direct companies to prioritise domestic orders over exports. 

DPA has become a bone of contention between the US and India because it is under this Act that Washington effectively slowed down the raw material shipments for Indian vaccine manufacturers. 

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Why Biden needs to come to India’s aid now to battle the Covid-19 surge



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