USA: US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have assured India and its people of providing all assistance, including urgently sending necessary medical life-saving supplies and equipment, to help the country combat the deadly coronavirus crisis.
India logged a record of 3,52,991 new coronavirus infections in a day on Monday, taking its total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,73,13,163. The death toll increased to 1,95,123 with a record 2,812 daily new fatalities, according to the Union Health Ministry data.
“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,” Biden said in a tweet
“The US is working closely with the Indian government to rapidly deploy additional support and supplies during an alarming Covid-19 outbreak. As we provide assistance, we pray for the people of India including its courageous healthcare workers,” Harris said in a tweet.
The tweets by Biden and Harris are the first reactions by the top American leadership after the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID19 pandemic in India. The two have been criticized by friends of India in the US, including some of their own party leaders, for slow response to the American help to their natural ally.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said she has been in close touch with Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla and India’s Ambassador to US Taranjit Singh Sandhu in recent days on the issue.
“The American people stand in solidarity with our friends in India during these difficult times. We are rapidly providing therapeutics, ventilators, PPE, raw material for vaccines, and more,” Sherman said.
Earlier on Sunday, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval during which the White House announced that it is urgently sending medical supplies and equipment to save lives in India.
India’s Ambassador to US Sandhu thanked both US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Sullivan for their prompt response. “Thank you Sullivan for your reach out and support. We will fight the global pandemic through our collective action!” he said in a tweet.
Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, Congressional India Caucus Vice-Chair and Member of the House Armed Services Committee, applauded the Biden administration.
“International cooperation and humanitarian assistance are the hallmarks of a truly progressive foreign policy. In the face of apocalyptic numbers of COVID-19 cases & new variants exploding in India, I applaud the Biden administration’s decision to put people over profits and provide additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), oxygen, and other medical supplies to India,” Khanna said.
Khanna said the Biden administration can still do more, like give India “our stockpile” of AstraZeneca vaccines that won’t be used in the US and have already opened up to Mexico and Canada. “And we should facilitate the Indian diaspora in America to help assist hospitals in India.”
Khanna said the administration should also call on Pfizer and Moderna to provide an intellectual property waiver for six months to a year as India grapples with the COVID-19 crisis. It will buy them an inordinate amount of goodwill in one of the largest emerging markets, he added.