Washington: The US House of Representatives has expressed solidarity with India in its fight against the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and in a resolution urged the Biden administration to urgently facilitate Covid assistance to India.
The bipartisan resolution, co-authored by Congressmen Brad Sherman and Steve Chabot that had 41 co-sponsors, recognised that when the US was in the midst of a devastating spike in Covid cases, India lifted its export ban on certain therapeutics in response to a request by the US government.
Sherman and Chabot are co-chairs of the House India Caucus. Among 41 co-sponsors, 32 lawmakers were from the ruling Democratic party and another nine from the Republican.
The resolution recognised that India’s pharmaceutical industry is a vital part of the global solution to the pandemic, especially for much of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and is the world’s biggest producer of Covid vaccines having exported 66.36 million doses to 93 countries and accounting for over half of global vaccine manufacturing.
“The resolution stands with the people of India as they collectively work to stem the spread of COVID-19,” said Sherman. “The US must work with our partners around the world to quell the virus everywhere it persists,” he added.
Chabot said the second wave of Covid has caused immense suffering. “Our close ties to India and India’s support for us early in the pandemic call for our support. As case rates continue to decline, we must help them finish the battle against the second wave and win the war against COVID-19 altogether,” he added.
Prior to this resolution, more than 150 members of US Congress across the political aisle have issued statements, letters and tweets in support of India.
In recent months, the Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu has had an intense and methodical engagement with US Congress. Besides India’s traditional contacts the outreach was expanded to cover a cross section of US Congress, including senior members of the House and Senate.
The resolution recognises the efforts of the Biden administration to deliver urgently needed medical supplies to India and urges the delivery of additional, much-needed medical supplies and in-kind medical supply donations to help India quell the devastating second wave of COVID-19.
It also recognises the efforts of Indian-Americans and American firms to support India’s health care system during this time of need, including the delivery of 1,000 ventilators and 25,000 oxygen concentrators to health care facilities across India.
In April, Chabot, Sherman, and a few others formally requested the White House to increase its assistance for India’s battle against COVID-19.
By early May, the US had provided more than USD 100 million worth of medical supplies to India, including oxygen support, personal protective equipment (PPE), rapid diagnostic tests, and therapeutics. The USAID also facilitated the delivery of 440 oxygen cylinders and regulators to India, donated by the State of California.