US V-P Harris speaks to PM Modi, assures Covid vaccines to India

US V-P Harris speaks to PM Modi, assures Covid vaccines to India

Washington DC: Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and three other world leaders and informed them that the US will begin sharing the first 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to their respective countries.

Harris and PM Modi further discussed strengthening efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The call was initiated by the American side, top government sources said.

During the call, Harris stressed the Joe Biden administration's efforts to 'achieve broad global coverage, responding to surges and other urgent situations ad public health needs and helping as many countries as possible who requested vaccines', according to Senior White House Advisor and Chief Spokesperson Symone Sanders.

Thanking Harris, PM Modi tweeted, "I deeply appreciate the assurance of vaccine supplies to India as part of the US Strategy for Global Vaccine Sharing. I also thanked her for the all the support and solidarity from the US government, businesses and Indian diaspora." Modi and Harris also discussed ongoing efforts to further strengthen India-US vaccine cooperation, "and the potential of our partnership to contribute to post-Covid global health and economic recovery", added the prime minister in his tweet.

The prime minister also expressed the hope to welcome Harris in India 'soon after the normalisation of the global health situation'.

Apart from Modi, Harris also dialled President Andres Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala, and Prime Minister Keith Rowley, Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

"The Vice President notified each of the leaders that the Biden-Harris Administration will begin sharing the rest 25 million doses of COVID vaccines to their respective countries and others, as part of the Biden-Harris Administration's framework for sharing at least 80 million vaccines globally by the end of June," the White House said in a statement.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday announced his plans to allocate 75 per cent - nearly 19 million of the first tranche of 25 million doses - of unused COVID-19 vaccines through the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing programme to countries in South and Southeast Asia as well as Africa.

In a statement, President Biden provided details on how the US will allocate the first 25 million of the vaccines to lay the ground for increased global coverage and to address real and potential surges, high burdens of disease, and the needs of the most vulnerable countries. "At least 75 percent of these doses - nearly 19 million- will be shared through COVAX, including approximately 6 million doses for Latin America and the Caribbean, approximately 7 million for South and Southeast Asia, and approximately 5 million for Africa," Biden said.

"The remaining doses, just over 6 million, will be shared directly with countries experiencing surges, those in crisis, and other partners and neighbours, including Canada, Mexico, India, and the Republic of Korea, he said.

The Biden administration had been under pressure to send the excess COVID-19 vaccines with the US to nations like India, which are facing severe vaccine shortages.

"We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic... And we will continue to follow the science and to work in close cooperation with our democratic partners to coordinate a multilateral effort, including through the G7, Biden added.

COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organisation.

President Biden on May 17 said the US will share 20 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses with other countries, taking the total number of such shots to 80 million. Ten million is equal to one crore.

The additional 20 million doses will be of the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, on top of 60 million AstraZeneca Plc doses he had already planned to give to other countries.

Biden said the United States "also recognise that ending this pandemic means ending it everywhere. As long as this pandemic is raging anywhere in the world, the American people will still be vulnerable. And the United States is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home.

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