With the rise of Covid-19 crippling the healthcare system, hectic diplomacy is underway with major countries for urgent supplies of vaccines, oxygen-related equipment such as tank trucks, ventilators, and other critical life-saving devices.
The Sunday Express has learned that meetings are taking place in Washington DC over the weekend with key stakeholders, including the government and the private sector. Sources in New Delhi said they were “cautiously optimistic” of the positive results of those meetings.
Earlier this week, Washington had indicated that not be a lifting of a ban on exports of key ingredients needed in vaccine manufacturing, a setback for Delhi from a “close strategic partner”. But there has been a shift in focus in the past 24 hours, and a decision to help India is expected in the coming days, The Sunday Express learned.
Many in Washington DC’s political and business elite are in favor of helping India, the sources said. On Saturday, the US Chamber of Commerce called on the White House to release “the millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in storage,” in addition to life-saving equipment, to India, Brazil and other nations affected by the pandemic.
On Friday, US Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: “Heartbreaking scenes from India … We are ready to help fight this terrible virus.” The US President’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, also said that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) were in talks with their Indian counterparts for technical assistance, adding that “we are trying to help as much as possible “. “Obviously, they need to vaccinate their people because that’s the only way we’re going to change that,” Dr. Fauci said.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States is “working closely with Indian officials at the political and expert level to find ways to help address the crisis.”
While no commitments were made for any specific aid, New Delhi is interpreting them as signs of a weakening of the US position on vaccines and their ingredients. Several US lawmakers have also advocated for helping India.
For a month now, vaccine manufacturers and initial suppliers have reported shortages of raw materials and critical packaging materials, consumables and equipment. Over time, such a shortage can lead to vaccine shortages and affect delivery commitments, as well as delay regulatory approvals for some products, experts said.