Washington, April 27
India was there for the American people in their hour of need and the United States will be there for the country as it meets its worst-ever public health crisis, President Joe Biden said here after his phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The two leaders spoke on Monday even as the Biden administration swung into action to provide assistance to India in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The urgent help announced by the White House ranged from oxygen supplies, raw materials for COVID-19 vaccines, critical life-saving drugs to PPEs.
“India was there for us, and we will be there for them,” Biden said in a tweet soon after his phone call with Modi.
This was the second telephonic conversation between the two leaders after Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on January 20.
“Today, I spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and pledged America’s full support to provide emergency assistance and resources in the fight against COVID-19,” Biden said.
The call between the two leaders is believed to have lasted for about 45 minutes. During the call, Biden is understood to have offered all help that India needs in this hour of crisis.
“The president pledged America’s steadfast ongoing support for the people of India, who have been impacted by the recent surge in the COVID-19 cases,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.
At India’s request, the United States is exploring options to provide oxygen and related supplies. The Department of Defence and USAID are pursuing options to provide oxygen generation systems.
“We may be in a position to reroute shipments plan further countries with lower immediate needs given the urgency of the conditions in India, and we’ll have more details, hopefully, on the possibility soon,” she said.
The Department of Defence, she said, is also exploring providing field oxygen generation systems, which the United States has used in its field medical hospitals.
Each unit can provide oxygen for up to 50 to 100 beds. The administration is also exploring options to provide oxygen concentrators and ventilators and are in technical discussions with India to ensure the equipment that the US supplies can connect to Indian devices, the official added.
“The United States has already provided 200 ventilators to India last year and trained medical professionals on their use, so this is of course in addition to that and other assistance we have provided,” Psaki said.
“Another one of the major needs is PPE, and we have identified US commercial suppliers as well. We have identified US commercial suppliers of remdesivir that are immediately available to help relieve the suffering of COVID-19 patients in India,” she said.
India has submitted a list of seven essential items that it needs on an urgent basis. These are oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders with 10 litre and 45 litre capacity, oxygen generators, oxygen generation plants, remdesivir, faviprivir, and tocilizumab.
Psaki said the US has identified rapid diagnostic testing supplies, personal protective equipment, and additional ventilators available to be transferred to India immediately.
The US is in close touch with India officials at all levels about the raw material needs that they have, she added. PTI