By Geeta Goindi
Washington, DC, June 4, 2021 – Vice President Kamala Harris called Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apprise him of the US plan to share the first 25 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines with India along with other countries. The Biden-Harris administration announced last month it would share at least 80 million vaccines globally by the end of June.
Modi was among four leaders who received a call from Harris Thursday morning, the others being President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico, President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala, and Prime Minister Keith Rowley, Chairman of the Caribbean Community.
In four separate phone calls, “the Vice President reiterated that the administration’s efforts are focused on achieving broad global coverage, responding to surges and other urgent situations and public health needs, and helping as many countries as possible who requested vaccines”, said senior advisor and chief spokesperson Symone Sanders in a statement.
“The four leaders thanked the Vice President, and they agreed to continue working together to address Covid-19 and advance our mutual interests around the world”, she added.
Disclosing that he spoke to Harris, Modi tweeted, “I deeply appreciate the assurance of vaccine supplies to India as part of the US Strategy for Global Vaccine Sharing”. He thanked the vice president for “all the support and solidarity from the US government, businesses and Indian diaspora”.
Modi added, “We 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”.
India reported 134,154 new coronavirus cases and 2,887 related deaths on Thursday. Delhi recorded 487 new cases, the lowest figure in nearly three months.
In a statement released by the White House, President Joe Biden announced the US will donate 75 percent of its unused Covid-19 vaccines to COVAX, the UN-backed global vaccine sharing program, and the remaining 25 percent will be shared bilaterally with its allies.
“The United States is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home”, he said.
Of the nearly 19 million doses which will be shared through COVAX, some 7 million are earmarked for South and Southeast Asia, 6 million for Latin America and the Caribbean, and about 5 million for Africa. The remaining doses, just over 6 million, will be shared directly with countries experiencing surges, those in crisis, and other partners and neighbors, including India, Canada, Mexico, and the Republic of Korea.
“We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions”, Biden said. “We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic with the power of our example and with our values. 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″.
The president pledged, “The United States will be the world’s arsenal of vaccines in our shared fight against this virus”.
Commending the Biden administration for unveiling the US plan to share Covid-19 vaccines with other nations including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka as well as other countries in Asia, Congresswoman Grace Meng said, in a statement, that she looks “forward to seeing the help that these vaccine distributions will provide” and she will “be monitoring the situation closely”.
The New York Democrat said, “If we are going to defeat Covid-19 and move past this pandemic, we must fight this virus not just here at home, but across the globe, and I applaud President Biden and his administration for proceeding with his commitment to do so. These donations of vaccines are urgently needed. They will save lives and help with the world’s recovery, and I thank the President and his administration for hearing the pleas that I and others made for sharing vaccines with these other countries”.