New Delhi: A day after US President Joe Biden announced that his country would share 80 million vaccines doses with the world, it is still unclear how many of those doses will come to India, which is reeling under a massive second wave of Covid-19 and a shortage of vaccines.
“I don’t have anything to say yet on the ultimate allocations (of the vaccines), but we will reach out and make sure that decisions are made,” Gayle E. Smith, State Department Coordinator for Global Covid Response and Health Security, said in response to a question from ThePrint during a select online media briefing.
Smith highlighted that India is a “major priority” for the US, and that is the reason why it received Covid emergency aid to the tune of $100 million. However, a decision on how many vaccines will it receive from the US has not yet been finalised.
“Given the surge there, India has been a major priority for us, we’ve delivered $100 million in emergency assistance mobilised with the American private sector, a pretty amazing response from the private sector and public, and we will continue to do so,” she said.
Earlier this week, President Biden had stated that by the end of June, his country would export 80 million vaccine doses to the world, including 60 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine that is under review by the US Food and Drug Administration, plus 20 million other Covid vaccines that are approved but are lying unused.
Smith added: “I can’t tell you at this point what the allocation is going to be per country. We will have information for you later on. We are also, with respect to India and India’s neighbours, mounting an emergency humanitarian response, given the surge that is ongoing there.”
‘Constraints in vaccine supplies are literally everywhere’
Apart from India and its neighbours, countries in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and South America are among those with an eye on the US’ plan to ship 80 million doses.
The State Department official said the US is “looking at all regions, given that the constraints in vaccine supplies are literally everywhere”. “We have not made final decisions. We are looking closely at every region,” Smith said.
She added: “Supply is a very big issue and we need many more vaccines for countries all over the world… We are working with producers on increasing the supply and also on the supply chain. The component parts that make up a vaccine are in shortage in some cases, so we are working to increase that production.”
Smith also said the US is more focussed on providing vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, and has reached out to its G-7 partner countries as well as the European Union to help scale up the supply.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)