U.S. to send support as India battles devastating COVID surge

A medical worker wearing PPE takes a swab sample from a woman

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged citizens to get vaccinated at the earliest and exercise caution, as India set a global record for the highest COVID-19 infection in a single day.

He said some 2,000 people were dying daily, but most experts estimated that the true number was five to 10 times that level.

The vaccines manufactured by India with U.S. and Japanese funding would be distributed with Australian logistics under the programme. "The US first and foremost is engaged in an ambitious and successful effort to vaccinate the American people", he said.

As India struggles to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, its QUAD ally - the USA - has nothing more to offer than "deepest sympathy".

India is racing to boost vaccine production as the government is trying to expand the inoculation drive to cover the country's young population as well.

The White House issued a statement after the phone call which said: "The United States has given the assurance of providing raw materials to Indian manufacturers without the need for the Covishield vaccine".

Earlier this month, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawala appealed to Biden to allow the exports of vaccine raw materials.

The United States is deeply concerned by a massive surge in coronavirus cases in India and will race additional support to the Indian government and health care workers, a White House spokeswoman said on Saturday.

"And, you know, this is a global pandemic, and India demonstrates the risk of what can happen if we don't get the pandemic under control everywhere".

The United States has around 30 million doses of the low-priced AstraZeneca vaccine that are not approved for use in the country, and Fauci told ABC's "This Week" news program the idea of sending them to India will be "something that is up for active consideration". "It's why we made the biggest investment in COVAX and we are committed to sharing vaccine supply as our confidence around our supply increases, we will explore those options", Zients said.

"We don't have any specific update to raw materials, but we'll just reiterate that we understand that the COVID situation in India remains a global concern", added Porter.

"As the Covid pandemic inflicts a heavy toll on countries around the globe, the US Chamber strongly encourages the administration to release the millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses in storage - as well as other life-saving support - for shipment to India, Brazil, and other nations hard-hit by the pandemic", said Myron Brilliante, executive vice president and head of worldwide affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce. "If we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the USA, I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the United States so that vaccine production can ramp up", he tweeted.

He said these vaccine doses will not be needed in the United States, where it's estimated that vaccine manufacturers will be able to produce enough doses by early June to inoculate every American.

India is now facing a massive surge in COVID-19 infections. "We're looking at what is going to be done with some of the vaccines that we are not using", the president said on Wednesday.

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