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India has become the world’s Covid-19 focal point with more then 350,000 new contagions in 24 hours.
The United States, while pledging full support and solidarity with the South Asian country, is simultaneously blocking a proposal led by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies to allow developing countries to produce vaccines.
“Our hearts go out to the Indian people in the midst of the horrific COVID-19 outbreak. We are working closely with our partners in the Indian government, and we will rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India and India's health care heroes,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted Sunday.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke by phone with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, expressing deep sympathy for the people of India following the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the White House said in a press release.
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 statement said, falling short of announcing a full lifting of intellectual property rights, as the situation seems to require.
Emergency US medical supplies will be delevered to India as of Tuesday, the statement said.
On Friday, the US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price had defended Washington's restrictions on the export of key raw materials for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines that has crippled vaccine production in India. "The US first and foremost is engaged in an ambitious and successful effort to vaccinate the American people", he said.
A group of US senators including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and nearly 100 members of Congress have sent a letter to the US president on the intellectual property issue.
The WTO is meeting on 5 May to discuss the India-South Africa request. COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla had earlier appealed US President Joe Biden on Twitter to "lift the embargo of raw material exports". Vaccine production capacity in the country has allegedly been cut in half due to the shortage of raw materials.
The global coronavirus death toll has surpassed 3 million, while 146 million cases have been confirmed since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Baltimore, Maryland's Johns Hopkins University.
The United States is still the most affected nation, with over 32 million infected, while almost 572,000 Americans have died during the pandemic. India has the second-highest tally in the world (16.5 million cases and 189,000 deaths), and Brazil - the second-highest number of deceased (over 14 million cases and around 389,000 deaths).
Meanwhile, Mexico has the third-highest death toll on the planet, with over 214,000 fatalities, while the number of infected is around 2.3 million.
Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus is by far the safest and most effective of the five vaccines used in Hungary, according to the EU nation's official figures.
Hungary became the first EU country to roll out Sputnik V after complaining about the slow pace of the European Union's vaccine procurement scheme.