Kamala Harris says India’s welfare is ‘critically important’ to the US Kamala Harris (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
US vice president Kamala Harris has said that India’s welfare is critically important to the US.
She pledged that the Biden administration is determined to help India in its hour of need due to surging Covid-19 infections and deaths.
The 366,161 new infections and 3,754 deaths reported by the health ministry on Monday (10) were off a little from recent peaks, taking India‘s tally to 22.66 million with 246,116 deaths.
Describing India’s situation as ‘nothing short of heartbreaking’, Harris she said that the entire Biden administration has been galvanised to help the country.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, when our hospital beds were stretched, India sent assistance. And today, we are determined to help India in its hour of need,” Harris said in her opening remarks at the state department’s diaspora outreach event on US Covid relief for India.
“We do this as friends of India, as members of the Asian Quad, and as part of the global community. I believe that if we continue to work together – across nations and sectors – we will all get through this.”
The US administration has announced $100 million assistance to India to deal with the Covid19 pandemic. It has already sent six plane loads of Covid-19 assistance to India.
The planes have landed in just six days, also included nearly 550 mobile oxygen concentrators that obtain oxygen from ambient air. These units have a lifespan of more than five years and can serve multiple patients at once, depending on their oxygen needs.
Indian-Americans have been raising millions of dollars and have been sending life-saving health care equipment and medicines to India. Sewa International USA has raised more than $10m, American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin or AAPI has raised $3.5 million and Indiaspora raised more than $2m to help India.
Harris recognised the contribution of Indian-Americans on the issue.
“For years, diaspora groups like Indiaspora and the American India Foundation have built bridges between the US and India. Past year, you have provided vital contributions to Covid-19 relief efforts. Thank you for your work,” Harris said.
“As many of you know, generations of my family come from India. My mother was born and raised in India. And I have family members who live in India today. The welfare of India is critically important to the US.
“The surge of Covid-19 infections and deaths in India is nothing short of heartbreaking. To those of you who have lost loved ones, I send my deepest condolences. As soon as the dire nature of the situation became apparent, our administration took action.”
Harris added: “Already, we have delivered refillable oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators, with more to come. We have delivered N95 masks, and have more ready to send. We have delivered doses of Remdesivir to treat Covid patients.”
According to USAID, among the emergency supplies to India include 20,000 courses of remdesivir (125,000 vials) to help treat critically ill patients, nearly 1,500 oxygen cylinders to address critical oxygen shortage, which can be repeatedly refilled at local supply centers and one million rapid diagnostic tests to quickly identify Covid-19 cases and prevent community spread.
In her remarks, Harris also referred to the decision taken by her administration to support a proposal by India and South Africa for a TRIPS waiver for vaccines at the WTO.
“We have announced our full support for suspending patents on Covid-19 vaccines – to help India and other nations vaccinate their people more quickly. India and the US have the greatest number of Covid-19 cases in the world,” she said.
Senior advisor Ervin Massinga at the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs said that the US was doing everything it can to help India.