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Release millions of AstraZeneca vaccines to India & Brazil, US Chamber of Commerce urges Biden

US Chamber of Commerce noted the heavy toll the Covid pandemic was inflicting and asked White House to release millions of doses as well as other life-saving support to countries.  

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New Delhi: The US Chamber of Commerce has asked the Joe Biden administration to release millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses “in storage” to India, Brazil and other such countries where the pandemic is raging as pressure builds up on Washington to release vaccines and other raw materials critical for their production in India.

This comes after the White House Friday said that the US made “vaccine cooperation a big priority” with not just India but with the rest of the Quad countries (Australia and Japan) as well.

“As the Covid pandemic inflicts a heavy toll on countries around the globe, the U.S. Chamber strongly encourages the administration to release the millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses in storage — as well as other life-saving support — for shipment to India, Brazil, and other nations hard-hit by the pandemic,” Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of International Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement Friday. 

“These vaccine doses will not be needed in the United States, where it’s estimated that vaccine manufacturers will be able produce enough doses by early June to vaccinate every American. This move would affirm U.S. leadership, including in initiatives such as COVAX, and as we work with partners around the globe because no one is safe from the pandemic until we are all safe from it,” Brilliant added.

ThePrint had reported that the Narendra Modi government has raised concerns with the US as well as its other Quad partners on the grouping’s vaccine partnership. The country is currently reporting record Covid-19 cases, including the world’s highest single-day spike, while it plans to open up vaccinations to everyone over the age of 18 from 1 May.

“India’s current wave requires immediate support from the United States and the international community. India has always stepped up to support others in need and now the time has come for us to help India,” said Nisha Biswal, senior vice-president for International Strategy, US Chamber of Commerce, President of US-India Business Council (USIBC).

On Friday, Dr Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s top medical adviser on the pandemic, said that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with India to provide technical support and assistance.

“We have not yet fully characterized the variants and the relationship between the ability of the vaccines to protect, but we’re assuming, clearly, that they [India] need vaccines,” he said.

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

‘US has been providing support to India’

According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the US has provided India with emergency relief supplies, medical consumables, pandemic training for Indian state and local health officials, and ventilators, which has been part of the country’s effort over the course of time, including $1.4 billion in health assistance to India.

Meanwhile, a group of prominent think-tanks — Carnegie India, Vivekananda International Foundation, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), IDFC Institute and Takshashila Institution — have asked the Biden government to consider exceptions to the Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950, for India, under which Washington has halted the export of raw materials critical for the production of Covid vaccines.

At the beginning of last month, Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer, Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer, wrote to the World Health Organization (WHO) over facing difficulties due to restrictions in the export of raw materials for Covid vaccines from the US.

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)

Also read: US embargo on exporting Covid vaccine raw materials and how it could impact India


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