India on Monday reported more than 300,000 new COVID infections for the fifth straight day, taking the overall COVID caseload to more than 17 million. Faced with a devastating second COVID wave, the Indian authorities are now grappling with shortage of jabs, with the country’s biggest vaccine manufacturer already struggling to fulfill orders.
US Democratic lawmaker Andy Kim has urged the Biden administration to release the stockpiled AstraZeneca vaccines to India, reasoning that New Delhi could use the jabs to inoculate its population because it has yet to be approved in the US.
“The US has tens of millions of AstraZeneca vaccines in stock. These aren’t even approved for use in the US at this time, but they are in many other places across the world. We should break down the barriers preventing us from sending them to the countries that need it”, noted the congressman from New Jersey.
In a series of tweets, Kim reckoned that even though the Biden administration has pledged support with resources and vaccine production to New Delhi, the US still could do “better”.
“America has secured enough vaccine for every single American. Pfizer/Moderna has signed up to deliver 600 million doses in total through July. Add 100 million J&J doses”, stated Kim, who is also a member of the Armed Services Committee.
The Democrat said that helping India with its COVID response was one of the first tests of the nation’s global leadership under the Joe Biden administration.
The appeal by Kim comes hours after Washington finally lifted its ban on the export of raw materials required for manufacturing of COVID vaccines in India. The export ban, legalised under the US Defence Production Act, prioritises supplies of these raw materials to domestic companies over foreign enterprises.