Indian Ambassador to US Taranjit Singh Sandhu on Wednesday (local time) assured that United States will stand shoulder to shoulder with India in its fight against the deadly second wave of the coronavirus pandemic as it continues to report more than 300,000 new cases.
In an exclusive interview to ANI, Sandhu spoke on myriad of issues including, COVID-19 humanitarian assistance, oxygen cylinders, oxygen regulators, Remdesivir supply, waiver on vaccine production, etc. Responding to the question on the execution plan of President Joe Biden administration on providing assistance to India, Sandhu said, "United States C5 aircraft with oxygen cylinders, oxygen regulators and other essential supplies has taken off from California. And its expected to land in Delhi tomorrow, and there will be perhaps more such sorties. This leadership clearly stated that during these trying times the United States will stand shoulder to shoulder with India."
The envoy reiterated that ties between the US and India has a "very solid foundation" adding that goes back to the late 90s. He recalled that then Senator Biden that time of the Foreign Affairs committee has been a strong supporter of India, even in the current phase.
"I think the outpouring of support for India, not just for the administration, but also for the US Congress, Senators and Congressmen, in the last three days, with strong expressions of support for India. And these include the top, whether it's Foreign Relations Committee, or on the Senate side. It has been strong expressions of support for India," Sandhu said.
Regarding private sector assistance to India, Sandhu responded that a number of top CEOs have gone into the chamber of commerce. In fact, just two days ago, Secretary of State (Antony Blinken) interacted with 50 top CEOs of the United States, and they have all come together and they have in fact, what is being called Global taskforce on pandemic response, mobilising for India.
"So that's the extent and you can already see Gilead has gone public, they are going to supply 450,000 dozes of Remdesivir. And then other US companies have already been updated specially, these are top companies like MasterCard, Walmart, Google, Deloite etc. So, the support in the private sector has been overwhelming. All have come together and have publicly expressed that they would like to stand shoulder to shoulder with people of India, extend their support,"the Envoy said.
"I think I must remind you that the very fact that India, assisted more than 95 countries, while giving almost USD 66 million. That was very much appreciated by the United States, and this outpouring, when many of the public, Senators, Congressmen, think that everybody has been coming publicly to say that the United States must extend fullest support for during this challenging time," added Sandhu.
Indian envoy also spoke at length about the frequency with which the vaccines will be made availabile to India.
"You have seen this expression from President Biden, from the other leading administration people even more from the US Senators publicly expressing on this and even Dr Fauci just stated yesterday. Now, it is a system which is in place here, under which they examine the internal quantities, the availability and the suitability, what CDC would describe. So, that aspect is going on," he said.
And I'm sure it'll come in the near future. And I mentioned to you that the first supply has already taken off and subsequent sorties will be taking place. And once that decision has been arrived. I'm sure that will also be taken care of."
Regarding the waiver for vaccine production, which is an issue at WTO, India and South Africa have come together and have asked for a tight limited temporary terms.
Envoy said, "There are a large number of countries, there are 59 countries which are sponsored and other countries have expressed support for this, supported by almost 200 NGOs, including doctors without borders."
Emphasising that the issue has caught the attention, the Envoy said,"There have been strong expressions by a group of strong Senators, in fact led by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders. Amongst the caucus. Congressman Ro Khanna has been pushing very hard. They have been quite public about it, asking the Biden administration, a favorable position, and allow for a temporary waiver so that the developing countries can manufacture the vaccines in bulk, and they can be used in public health, for other countries."
Earlier on April 26, President Biden spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed solidarity with India following the worsening COVID-19 caseload.
President Biden reaffirmed that US is determined to support, India's efforts contain the pandemic during the talks. And he quickly deployed resources, and adding oxygen equipment supplies, therapeutics, medics, ventilators and other critical material for vaccine manufacturing. (ANI)