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India to receive share from 80 million US vaccines through COVAX: US State Dept official

India will be receiving a share of the 80 million (8 crores) unused Covid-19 vaccines through the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing programme that President Joe Biden has announced, according to a senior State Department official.

On June 2, President Biden announced that the US will allocate 75 per cent — nearly 1.9 crores of the first tranche of 2.5 crore doses — of unused Covid-19 vaccines from its stockpile through the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing programme to countries in South and Southeast Asia as well as Africa.

The move is part of his administration’s framework for sharing 80 million (8 crores) vaccines globally by the end of June.

According to a White House fact sheet, nearly 19 million vaccines will be shared through COVAX.

“I don’t have the specific details on when the shipment of vaccines will be arriving in India. Of course, India will be in receipt of a share of those 80 million vaccines and through COVAX, I believe there were some six million vaccines destined for the region,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.

Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organisation.

“We know that India has suffered tremendously with this pandemic and as we have done in the case of these vaccines, but also as we did even prior to this vaccine sharing announcement. We have demonstrated our commitment to work closely with our partners in India to help see the way out of this epidemic,” he said.

In recent weeks, the US has so far supplied seven planeloads of life-saving supplies worth approximately USD 100 million.

“This is also in addition to the tremendous generosity that we have seen from the private sector and the diaspora here in this country that has donated some 400 million additional dollars. So, that’s half a billion dollars that the United States government and the people here in the United States have committed to help our friends and to help our partners in India recover from this pandemic,” Price said.

Responding to a question, he said the Biden administration is absolutely continuing with its commitment to help the government and the people of India emerge from this pandemic.

“We remain engaged with the private sector as we have spoken of our commitment of vaccines to India, of our commitment of planeloads of life-saving supplies, doing all we can not only on our part but also to galvanize action on the part of other non-governmental actors here in the United States to help our friends in India,” Price said.

India is currently witnessing the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. So far, the country has recorded over 2,90,89,069 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 3,53,528 deaths.

The Biden administration had been under pressure to send the excess Covid-19 vaccines with the US to nations like India, which are facing severe vaccine shortages.

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