Senior U.S. officials on Tuesday pledged continued support for India to help it cope with the world’s worst current outbreak of COVID-19 infections, warning that the country is still at the forefront of the crisis and that it will take time to overcome it.
White House National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell told a virtual event on US aid that President Joe Biden told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday during a ‘a phone call: “You let me know what you need and we will.”
Campbell said at the event, hosted by the US-India Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, that Washington is committed to helping the second most populous country in the world cope with the crisis.
“We all have to understand that this is not a challenge that is going to be resolved (in) the next few days,” he said.
Tackling the crisis, he said, was important not only for the Indian people but also for the United States, given India’s critical role as a global supplier of vaccines.
India is now the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, as a second wave of infections has pushed the death toll to nearly 200,000.
Vital medical supplies began reaching the country of 1.35 billion people on Tuesday, but hospitals without vital oxygen and beds were still turning away coronavirus patients.
The United States and other countries have pledged emergency medical aid to try to contain the emergency in India.
US State Department Coordinator for the Global Response to COVID-19, Gayle Smith, added, “We all need to understand that we are always at the forefront of this situation.
“So this is going to take determination … We are going to work very hard for a while, but we are confident that we can do it,” she said. “We anticipate that at the height of this type of complex emergency it will be very fluid for a while as things fall into place. We will collectively need to be very nimble and very nimble.”
Jeremy Konyndyk, global COVID-19 adviser to USAID, said the agency was concerned about the situation in countries in the same region as India and wanted to support both India’s ability to contain the situation and the wider region.
He said the United States was providing much needed raw materials to the Indian Serum Institute to enable it to increase production of the AstraZeneca vaccine in that country.
Besides the United States, countries like Britain and Germany have pledged their support, while the World Health Organization has said it is working on the delivery of 4,000 oxygen concentrators, calling the comes out of India “beyond the heartbreak”.
Two Indian government sources told Reuters earlier on Tuesday that New Delhi expects to get most of the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that the United States will share globally.
Senior U.S. officials said on Monday that an agreement between the United States and three of its closest Indo-Pacific partners to produce up to one billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine in India by the end of 2022 to supply other Asian countries was “still on track”, despite the current crisis in the country.