Late-night Sunday, the United States of America announced it would supply Bharat the raw materials needed for the production of some Covid-19 vaccines in the country. Two vaccines manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, Covishield and Covovax, were facing raw materials shortage after the US banned the export of the same.
Covovax is expected to get regulatory approval very soon.
Currently two vaccines are in use in the country for the mass vaccination programme, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and SII’s Covishield. In a press release, the White House said, “The United States has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India.”
It added, “The United States also is pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis.” National Security Advisor’s Jake Sullivan and Ajit Doval had a telephonic conversation before the dramatic u-turn by the United States.
Just a day before, the United States had refused to lift the embargo saying Americans were their first responsibility.
To a question on whether the United States would consider lifting the embargo, the State Department spokesperson Ned Price had said: “…the United States first and foremost is engaged in an ambitious and effective and, so far, successful effort to vaccinate the American people.”
She had added, “we have a special responsibility to the American people.” The move by the US was much criticised across the globe.
Last year, when the then US President Donald Trump had requested for HCQ, Bharat had readily agreed.
President Biden tweeted, “Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need.”
The Vice-President Kamala Harris, who has so far maintained her silence, tweeted, “The U.S. is working closely with the Indian government to rapidly deploy additional support and supplies during an alarming COVID-19 outbreak. As we provide assistance, we pray for the people of India—including its courageous healthcare workers.”
The US press release also talked about the financial help to another vaccine manufacturer from Bharat, BioE. It said, “The U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is funding a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for BioE, the vaccine manufacturer in India, enabling BioE to ramp up to produce at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022.”