India is expected to get possibly the largest share of the 25 million Covid-19 vaccine doses that the US on Thursday announced it will send to partners countries and those in need of them to deal with ongoing surges.
India figures in two categories of prospective recipient countries.
Out of the 25 million doses, 19 million will go through Covax, the WHO-led initiative for global equitable distribution, to countries earmarked by the US. Of this, 7 million will go to Asia, including India and 15 other countries, according to a fact sheet issued by the White House.
India also figures on a list of recipient countries described by the US as “regional partners and partner recipients”, which also include Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Egypt, Jordan, Ukraine, Georgia and Gaza — 7 million doses have been set aside for this group.
India did not feature in the first fact sheet, leading to some confusion, because it was in statement issued by President Joe Biden. An updated fact sheet has India in this category as well. No country-specific numbers have been released by the US.
Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the Indian ambassador to the US, told PTI: “India will be a significant recipient of US vaccines as India has been included in both the identified categories in the allocation announced today- direct supply to neighbours and partner countries, and under the Covax initiative.”
“The vaccine allocation announcement by US and telephone call between PM and VP Kamala Harris reflect the firm commitment of the leadership of both India and US to work in partnership on global issues,” the Ambassador later told HT.
President Biden has pledged to share 80 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines countries that need them — 60 million of AstraZeneca (called Covishield in India), which the US doesn’t intend to use, and 20 million of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — by the end of June.
The Biden administration announced the allocation plan for 25 million of 80 million on Thursday, promising, as National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has said, “the United States will not use its vaccines to secure favors from other countries”. It was a thinly disguised shot at Russia and China, who, the Americans say, have distributed vaccines seeking to advance their own interests.
The White House also announced it was lifting restrictions invoked under the Defense Production Act that will allow sharing of raw materials needed for the AstraZeneca, as well as Sanofi and Novavax vaccines, which are also not authorised in the US.
“The removal of the Defence Production Act priority ratings would further strengthen vaccine supply chains including for manufacturers AstraZeneca and Novavax,” Sandhu said.
Sandhu, on Thursday, also had a discussion with US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy. “We discussed India US cooperation to contain the global pandemic, including in vaccines, and potential collaborations to ensure affordable health care,” the Ambassador said in a tweet.