US to provide urgently needed vaccine ingredients and medical supplies to India

President Joe Biden says America 'determined to help India in its time of need'

The US will immediately provide materials for Covid-19 vaccines, medical equipment and protective gear to help India respond to a massive surge in Covid-19 infections, the White House said on Sunday.

"The United States is working around the clock to deploy available resources and supplies," National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said.

Ms Horne said the materials would help India to make its Covishield vaccine, the locally licensed version of the AstraZeneca treatment.

The US would also send therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits and ventilators.

President Joe Biden said America was "determined to help India in its time of need".

Washington was under increasing pressure to help India, the world's largest democracy, after Britain, France and Germany pledged aid over the weekend.

Earlier, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Indian counterpart Ajit Doval "about the spike in Covid cases in India and we agreed to stay in close touch in the coming days".

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged all citizens to be vaccinated and exercise caution, as the country set a global record for new Covid-19 infections in a single day.

The US was also looking at options to provide India with oxygen production and related supplies.

US officials are considering sending India its unused Covid-19 vaccines doses from AstraZeneca, top US infectious disease official Dr Anthony Fauci said on Sunday.

"That's something that certainly is going to be actively considered," Dr Fauci told ABC News.

AstraZeneca's vaccine is not yet approved in the US, which has millions of doses, and US health officials said they had enough doses of approved versions by three other drug makers to inoculate all Americans in coming weeks.

The nation's top business lobbying group has also pushed the administration to send AstraZeneca's vials to countries with rising cases.

The White House had no comment on the possibility of sending the AstraZeneca vaccine to India.

Senior US officials have expressed concern that new variants of the virus emerging in India could undermine progress made in the US.

The outbreak also threatens the economic recovery of India, the sixth-largest economy in the world.

Ms Horne said the US would also send a team of experts from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and US Agency for International Development to work with India.

The US Development Finance Corporation will fund a substantial expansion of manufacturing capacity for Indian vaccine maker Biological E, enabling it to produce at least 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2022.

Updated: April 25, 2021 11:39 PM

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