Set aside for India portion from Covid vaccine doses, Senator urges Biden

PTI Washington | Updated on June 04, 2021

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer   -  REUTERS

In a letter to US President, Senator Schumer said India helped the US in the hour of need earlier

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has urged President Joe Biden to set aside for India a portion from 80 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, which the lawmaker said is now the epicenter of the pandemic.

In a letter to Biden, Schumer said India helped the US in the hour of need earlier by sending much needed protective personnel equipment. “Now, it is time for us to give back and help the people of India,” he said in the letter dated June 1.

“On May 17, your administration announced that it would send 80 million doses of the vaccine to assist foreign nations. The United States, through other Covid-19 vaccine products, has more than enough vaccines to protect our own population and can afford to send AstraZeneca and other vaccine doses abroad,” he said. “As such, I urge you to send a robust allotment of Covid-19 vaccine doses to India to help bring a swift end to this global crisis,” Schumer wrote.

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“I ask that you set aside a portion from the 80 million doses the United States has said it will release over the next few months to the Republic of India. To end the Covid-19 pandemic, this virus must be eradicated not just domestically but across the world and vaccinations are our most potent weapon in this fight,” he said.

President Biden on Thursday announced details of the allotment of 25 million of the 80 million vaccines to countries around the world. The exact number of vaccines that India would receive has not been announced. India is, however, expected to receive a substantial number of these vaccines. A day before writing to Biden, Schumer had a virtual meeting with India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu.

“Good conversation with Majority Leader Senator Schumer on India-US strategic partnership especially in QUAD, vaccines and healthcare. Discussed working together in innovation as well as emerging technologies and thanked him for his longstanding support for India and Indian American community,” Sandhu said in a tweet earlier this week.

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In his letter Schumer said India is now the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has recorded over 28 million Covid-19 cases, second only to the United States and more than 3,00,000 deaths, third in the world behind the United States and Brazil, he said.

The situation shocked the world last month when it became the only country in the world to reach over 4,00,000 daily cases. Scientists believe that the Delta Covid-19 variant, first detected in India, helped drive this surge due to its higher transmission potential, he wrote.

Schumer said the rapid spike placed enormous burdens on the nation’s health care system with reports of treatment facilities running out of critical supplies such as oxygen and regions resorting to mass cremation in public parks to handle the volume of deaths.

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“So far, the country of over 1.3 billion has delivered first dose of Covid-19 vaccines to 12 per cent of its population, including three per cent who are fully vaccinated. The nation’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, has announced it will make 90 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine doses this month,” he said.

While this is a significant contribution, India needs much more support to vaccinate its people and protect them against the spread of Covid-19, said the Senate Majority leader.

Published on June 04, 2021

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