The U.S. government needs to focus on vaccinating Americans, a State Department spokesperson said as he dodged a question about Washington’s alleged rejection of India’s call for help to deal with its deadly wave of Covid-19.
Asked whether an ongoing US ban on the export of vaccine raw materials to India will be lifted, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that US President Joe Biden’s administration is “First of all” engaged in throwing shots at its citizens.
“Of course it is not only in our interest to see Americans vaccinated; it is in the interest of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated “, he told a press conference on Thursday.
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In the past week, India has seen a fatal increase in Covid-19 infections, with a world record of 332,000 new cases reported daily on Friday, as well as 2,263 deaths.
Price responded to claims that Washington had rejected New Delhi’s calls for help by pointing out that the United States has donated to the COVAX vaccine initiative and has also been hit hard by the pandemic itself.
Last week, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, called on the United States to lift the embargo on the export of key commodities to other countries “So that vaccine production can increase.”
Respect yourself @POTUS, if we truly want to unite to defeat this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the United States, I humbly ask you to lift the embargo on exports of raw materials from the United States so that vaccine production can increase. Your administration has the details. 🙏🙏
– Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) April 16, 2021
The issue was also reportedly raised by Indian Ambassador to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu in conversations with senior Biden officials, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
At various times during the pandemic, the Biden and Trump administrations invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950 to force pharmaceutical companies to ramp up vaccine production and other companies to step up production of ventilators, tests and protective equipment. The law also allowed both administrations to ban the export of vaccines and other medicines needed to fight Covid-19 at home.
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