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US, UAE and Saudi Arabia back India in war on Covid-19

US, UAE and Saudi Arabia back India in war on Covid-19

The United States, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have extended support to India in its hour crisis as the second wave of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic sweeps across the country. 

 According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Washington has asked its nearest bases to air-lift oxygen generators, concentrators,  anti-viral drug Remdesivir and raw materials for making vaccines in the next 48 hours. UAE is sending a huge shipment of oxygen concentrators and Saudi Arabia is despatching a large number of oxygen generators to India.

While both Indian and US interlocutors noted the insensitivity of US spokesperson's earlier remarks on supply of raw material, Washington’s decision to support India’s fight against the raging pandemic on Sunday night came after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spoke to his US counterpart Jake Sullivan in a detailed conversation, the report states.

At the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, both Doval and external affairs minister S Jaishankar have been talking to the US and other Indian allies like UAE and Saudi Arabia. It is understood, that while Doval spoke to Saudi Arabia and UAE, Jaishankar has been in touch with EU, particularly France, for seeking help with oxygen concentrators, Remdesivir and raw materials for producing vaccines, the Hindustan Times report adds.

According to official sources, UAE has informed India that it is sending a huge consignment of oxygen concentrators, while Saudi Arabia is sending oxygen generators with promise of more support. However, the US has offered all support and shipments will be flying from its bases in the Indo-Pacific. “The India-US ties remain as close as ever,” said a top official.

A statement by the White House on the conversation between Doval and Sullivan further read, “To help treat Covid-19 patients and protect front-line health workers in India, the United States has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will immediately be made available for India. The United States also is pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis.”

The US also said the US 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. India pharma company BioE has tied up with Johnson & Johnson for the manufacture of its single-shot Covid vaccine.

“Additionally, the United States is deploying an expert team of public health advisors from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and USAID to work in close collaboration with the US Embassy, India’s health ministries, and India’s Epidemic Intelligence Service staff,” it said.

The USAID and the CDC will also “fast-track the mobilisation of emergency resources available to India through the Global Fund”.

US Vice-President Kamal Harris also took to Twitter to reaffirm her country’s support for India to fight the pandemic.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi called the Biden Administration's commitment to export raw materials needed for life-saving vaccines to India as an “essential first step”.

India on Sunday reported 349,691 new infections of the disease, which is the highest single-day rise in Covid-19 cases worldwide. It was the fourth straight day that India recorded more than 300,000 cases in a day.