The United States has no immediate plans to help the Indian government and share their vaccine stocks, even as the country experiences a record wave and Indian hospitals are struggling to find sufficient beds or bottled oxygen for patients.
India announced 332,730 new coronavirus cases on Friday, setting a new world record on the second consecutive day.
US officials say they are helping the Indian government’s public health agency with technical support and other assistance, but have no immediate plans to share extra vaccine supplies. This includes failing to send in doses from US stocks of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet approved for use in America.
America is “committed to sharing vaccine supply,” White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said in a recent briefing, even if only once the country feels more secure in its supply.
“As our confidence in our offering grows, we will explore these options,” he said.
The United States has pledged up to $ 4 billion to Covax, the international effort to provide vaccines to low-income countries, and is discussing sharing supplies as ventilators with India. It is also part of an effort to increase vaccine production in the United States, India, Japan and Australia until 2022.
“It is a dire situation that we are trying to help in any way we can,” White House Covid adviser Dr Anthony Fauci said during Friday’s coronavirus briefing.
India is one of the world’s largest vaccine producers, but has struggled with an internal covid crisis. The country has had around 16 million Covid cases in total, and medical facilities have struggled with low bed space and access to bottled oxygen, while authorities have allowed massive election rallies and parties to take place in recent days. religious, including the Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela. , which has attracted millions of people.
Experts say the country is suffering from mixed messaging and the implementation of public health initiatives around Covid and from political leaders who celebrated victory over Covid prematurely, allowing people to let their guard down.
India’s inability to provide widespread vaccinations to much of its population also highlights the linkage of many low- and middle-income countries, which could wait until 2023 to get mass vaccination as wealthy nations catch up. global offer of vaccines.
In March, Indian authorities slowed vaccine exports to other nations to support domestic supply.
58 low- and middle-income countries, as well as U.S. lawmakers such as Senator Bernie Sanders, urged pharmaceutical giants and the World Trade Organization to facilitate the open-access use of proprietary vaccine formulas to accelerate distribution.