File image of PM Modi with Joe Biden, who was then the vice president in the Obama administration (Image: AFP)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United States President Joe Biden held a telephonic conversation on April 26, a day after Washington agreed to export the critical raw materials sought by vaccine manufacturers in India.
The two leaders discussed the COVID-19 situation in their respective countries, including India’s ongoing efforts to contain the second wave of COVID-19 through expedited vaccination efforts, and ensuring supply of critical medicines, therapeutics and healthcare equipment.
Modi, in a series of tweets following his phone call with Biden, said he thanked the US President for supporting India in addressing the challenges posed by the resurgent coronavirus crisis.
"Had a fruitful conversation with @POTUS @JoeBiden today. We discussed the evolving COVID situation in both countries in detail. I thanked President Biden for the support being provided by the United States to India (sic)," Modi tweeted.
The prime minister further added that his discussion with Biden "underscored the importance of smooth and efficient supply chains of vaccine raw materials and medicines". The India-US healthcare partnership can address the "global challenge of COVID-19", he added. Explained | Why the latest aid from US doesn't include COVID-19 vaccines or ingredients
A statement issued by the Indian Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said President Biden has "conveyed solidarity with India" and affirmed that the US was determined to support India’s efforts by "quickly deploying resources such as therapeutics, ventilators and identifying sources of raw materials to be made available for the manufacture of Covishield vaccines".
Till the past week, the Biden administration had maintained that it would restrict the supply of vaccines and key raw materials in view of the ongoing vaccination programme in America.
The change in Washington's approach came shortly after Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval held a telephonic conversation with his US counterpart Jake Sullivan on April 25.
The White House, in a statement issued following Doval and Sullivan's phone call, said it has decided to immediately provide India with the "sources for raw materials" required by the vaccine manufacturers.
“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” Emily Horne, spokesperson of the National Security Council of White House, said.
"The United States has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India," the White House statement further added.