US to Send India Supplies, Raw Material for Covid-19 Vaccines ‘Immediately’

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The US will deploy additional support to India in its fight against the rapidly rising cases of coronavirus in the country. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke to National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on call on Friday and offered to deploy resources and supplies for the Serum Institute of India to boost the production of COVID-19 vaccine Covishield. He also said US will supply rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to India.

“The United States has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India. To help treat COVID-19 patients and protect front-line health workers in India, the United States has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will immediately be made available for India,” a statement by NSC Spokesperson Emily Horne read.

The United States said it was deeply concerned by the massive surge in coronavirus cases in India and would rapidly send aid. Amid rising demand for oxygen for the treatment of COVID-19 patients and reports of shortage in several states, the US said it is “pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis.”

“The US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is funding a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for BioE, the vaccine manufacturer in India, enabling BioE to ramp up to produce at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022,” the statement further said.

The US said it is also deploying an expert team of public health advisors from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and USAID to work in collaboration with the US Embassy, health ministries and Epidemic Intelligence Service staff in India.

The United States has faced criticism in India for its export controls on raw materials for vaccines put in place via the Defense Production Act and an associated export embargo in February.

The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine maker, this month urged US President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on US exports of raw materials that is hurting its production of AstraZeneca shots.

“An average antibody producing plant will use in the area of 9,000 distinct materials sourced from exactly 300 providers across roughly 30 unique nations,” as per a report by the World Trade Organization with respect to the composition of of Covid-19 vaccines.

Further, speaking about the supplies needed during manufacturing of vaccines, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, had said, “There are lot of bags and filters and critical items that manufacturers need.”

“I will give you an example. The Novavax vaccine that we are a major manufacturer of, need these items from the US… Now the US has chosen to invoke the Defence Act, in which there is a sub-clause which prevents the export of critical raw materials required for their local vaccine manufacturers,” an Economic Times report quoted him as saying.

It has been found that shortages in the supply chain could disrupt vaccine manufacturing in a significant way, according to a report by UK-based think tank Chatham House, in collaboration with the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations. Among materials that are in short supply fall single-use bioreactor bags, cell culture media, viral-vactor, protein-subunit-based Covid-19 vaccines, and single-use filters and glass vials, a report by The Print said.

Others such as US Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi urged the Biden administration to release unused vaccines to India. “When people in India and elsewhere desperately need help, we can’t let vaccines sit in a warehouse, we need to get them where they’ll save lives,” he said.

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