USAID administrator Samantha Power met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during which they discussed shared priorities for development and humanitarian assistance amid the current surge of COVID-19 across India, a spokesperson of the agency said on May 28.
Power and Jaishankar discussed areas for important collaboration on pandemic response efforts in India, as well as strategies to catalyse private capital to save lives, counter the spread of the pandemic, and strengthen health systems for the future, USAID acting spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala said.
The meeting took place on May 27.
The two leaders also discussed opportunities to strengthen developmental cooperation through Quad and with India's Development Partnership Administration, including through collaboration with third-country partners in the Indo-Pacific, Africa and other regions, she said.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided major COVID-19 assistance to India.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
Talking to reporters, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Dean Thompson stated that just as India helped the US when they were in a challenging situation last year, the Biden administration has resolved to help India, most recently by deploying seven plane loads of oxygen and oxygen-related equipment, therapeutic medicine, PPE kits and rapid diagnostic tests.
"We have also redirected one of our own orders of critical vaccine manufacturing supplies, which will allow India to make over 20 million additional doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. In total, the US government, state governments, US companies and private citizens have provided over $500 million worth COVID-19 relief supplies to India," he said.
"The latest crisis has only strengthened our commitment to working together on COVID-19 response, which will be essential to help the world recover from the pandemic. Expanding the production of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority for both the United States and India," he said.
Thompson said the essential supplies provided to India included courses of remdesivir to help treat critically ill patients, 1,500 oxygen cylinders to address India's critical oxygen shortage (these can be repeatedly refilled as well at local supply centres), 1 million rapid diagnostic tests in order to quickly identify COVID-19 cases, and nearly 2.5 million N-95 masks to protect healthcare professionals.Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.