Washington to send ‘Strike Team’, COVID vaccine raw material and oxygen to India: US officials

Washington to send 'Strike Team', COVID vaccine raw material and oxygen to India US officials

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden spoke to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, pledging US assistance after growing pressure on Washington to help.

Post the high-level call between the two leaders a senior administration official told reporters that the US is ready with a range of support and is prepared to immediately start deploying it. The US will dispatch a “Strike Team” comprising of public health experts to India, the official added.

“US CDC is working with USAID that will urgently deploy a strike team to India which will improve public health experts to work in close collaboration with our embassy with India’s health ministries and experts and with India’s Epidemic Intelligence Service staff,” the official added.

The Strike Team will work hand in hand with Indian experts in areas including laboratory services, surveillance and epidemiology and bioinformatics for sequencing and modelling of the disease, infection prevention and control the rollout and risk communications. The Strike Team will also include CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officers and laboratory leads, leadership and service officers who will work directly with US officials.

As requested by the government of India, United States will provide raw materials for the production of AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine at the Serum Institute of India.

“What we are doing is that we are diverting our own order of our own supplies to the Serum Institute for their manufacturing, because of the scope of the current situation in India. This was the most effective and rapid step we could take at this stage to provide support at scale,” the official affirmed.

Another set of resources that India has specifically requested to the United States listing as a priority is Oxygen. The Department of Defense and the US Agency for International Development are pursuing options to provide oxygen generation systems and working on the oxygen supply chain.

“We do have the Department of State working to finalise options for contracting oxygen including cylinder. We also have the Department of Defense working on oxygen generation systems including larger scale as well as smaller-scale units,” informed the official.

“We also are exploring options to provide oxygen concentrations and ventilators and we’re in technical discussions with India to ensure that the equipment we supply will connect the devices in India, and we’re also going to be providing training associated with all of these requests as needed,” the official briefed reporters.

Another category of assistance that the US will provide to India are therapeutics, personal protective equipment and tests. “The United States is identified US commercial suppliers of Remdesivir that are immediately available to help relieve the suffering of COVID-19 patients in India, and we’ve identified rapid diagnostic testing supplies as well as personal protective equipment that will be available to be transferred to India immediately,” the official added

As announced by the White House earlier today, the US will begin sharing up to 60 million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses with the world after the federal safety review. Doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be sent to countries “as they become available” and “in stages,” according to another US official. (ANI) 

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