Three US senators urge Biden admin to accelerate COVID-19 assistance to India

Three US senators urge Biden admin to accelerate COVID-19 assistance to India

Washington: Three top US senators have urged the Biden administration to ramp up its COVID-19 assistance to India, saying the country is currently registering over 3,00,000 new cases every day and its health care system is struggling to keep up with the surge.

Commending for recent actions to help India address the crisis, the three senators in a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken also urged the administration to continue its robust contribution to the WHO's COVAX plan and prepare a detailed strategy on how the US can distribute its surplus of vaccines.

Senators Mark Warner, John Cornyn and Ron Portman warned of "disinformation campaigns surrounding the vaccines by countries such as China and Russia", and urged the administration to do everything it can to combat these campaigns.

Warner and Cornyn are Co-Chairs of the Senate India Caucus. Warner is from the Democratic Party, while Cornyn and Portman are from the opposition Republican party.

"As you know, India's healthcare system and infrastructure are struggling to meet the challenges posed by the current and largely unchecked surge, with the country averaging more than 300,000 new infections every day, the letter said.

"We urge you to work with the Department of Defense and other US government agencies, as well as with our international partners and private sector partners to transfer more life-saving equipment, vaccines and other support to India as quickly as possible, the three senators wrote.

The US must work with the Indian government on their response, as well as continue to lead the international efforts to stop the spread of variants and to deliver the assistance needed to the Indian people, they said.

Warner, Cornyn and Portman said the US should also continue its robust contribution to COVAX's plan for the global acquisition and distribution of vaccines to low and medium-income countries.

In the coming months, the US will have a surplus of vaccines that can be made available for distribution around the world. A detailed public strategy on how the Department of State plans to distribute these excess vaccines would clarify the ambiguity surrounding future US policy and provide needed certainty to India, they said.

"Lastly, we urge the Global Engagement Center to combat the numerous disinformation messages from Russia, China and others regarding the coronavirus pandemic, including the US global health response. Specifically in India, disinformation has undermined the public health response, heightened already-tense religious tensions, and muddied the waters surrounding our support as they face an unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections, the senators wrote.

"As entities continue to manipulate narratives at the expense of US national security, regional security, and global health security, we urge you to place a greater emphasis on combating these disinformation and misinformation campaigns integrating that effort into America's global health response to this pandemic, they said.

Last week, Cornyn and Warner had written to President Joe Biden on sending aid to India. They also had a conference call with officials from the White House.

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