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COVID-19: US is helping India significantly, says President Joe Biden

So far, six air shipments funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have departed the US for India. These flights include health supplies, oxygen cylinders, N95 masks and medicines.

May 05, 2021 / 08:18 AM IST
File image of PM Modi with Joe Biden (Image: AFP)

File image of PM Modi with Joe Biden (Image: AFP)

The US is helping India "significantly" in its fight against the second wave of COVID-19 by sending it material and machine parts, President Joe Biden has said.

So far, six air shipments funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have departed the US for India. These flights include health supplies, oxygen cylinders, N95 masks and medicines.

"We are helping Brazil. We are helping India significantly. I spoke to Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi. What he needs most is the material and the parts to be able to have his machines that can make the vaccine work. We're sending him that,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.

"We're sending them oxygen. We are sending them a lot of the precursors. So we're doing a lot for India," he said responding to a question on his assistance to India, Brazil and other countries amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden said by July 4, the US is going to send 10 per cent of AstraZeneca vaccines to other countries.


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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AstraZeneca vaccine is being used around the world but has not been approved for use in the US.

"With regard to the AstraZeneca vaccine which we had, we have sent that vaccine to Canada and to Mexico and there are other countries that we're talking to now. Matter of fact, I talked to a head of state today. I'm not prepared to announce who else we'll be giving the vaccine to,” the US president said."

"But we are going to by the 4th of July have sent about 10 per cent of what we have to other nations, including some of the ones you mentioned,” he added.

At the request of the Indian government, the USAID had earlier provided some supplies to the Indian Red Cross, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.

"These are a lot of the components that the Indian government has expressed a vital need for. More flights are on the way, with total existence expected to exceed USD100 million,” Psaki said.

"In terms of oxygen support which is a big component of what they need right now, we are talking about oxygen cylinders, so the USAID delivered approximately 1,500 cylinders that will remain in India and can repeatedly be refilled at local supply centers with more planeloads to come,” she said.

The USAID has sent approximately 550 oxygen concentrators to obtain oxygen from ambient air and it has also delivered large scale units to support up to 20 patients each of an oxygen generation unit, she added.

The press secretary told reporters that the Biden administration has directed its own order of AstraZeneca manufacturing supplies to India, allowing India to make over 20 million doses.

The US has also provided one million rapid diagnostic tests and last weekend, the USAID delivered 20,000 treatment courses of the antiviral drug remdesivir to help treat hospitalised patients, she said.

A group of experts from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is headed to India. The group will work in close coordination with India's public health experts in laboratory surveillance and epidemiology, emergency response and operations development, bioinformatics for genomic sequencing and modeling, Psaki added.
first published: May 5, 2021 08:16 am

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