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Biden administration's snub to Covid-hit India angers Indian Americans

The United States has been receiving tremendous backlash over social media over its stand. Some global think-tanks believe that the Biden administration is losing any goodwill it gained in the last few months with Indians.

Biden administration's snub to Covid-hit India angers Indian Americans-VPN
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Washington D.C., First Published Apr 25, 2021, 8:51 AM IST
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Indian American lawmakers are fuming over the decision by President Joe Biden's administration to not acknowledge India's request to lift its export embargo on raw materials needed to mass-produce vaccines at a time when it desperately needs help.

A group of Indian American have resolved to take up the matter with the US-India Caucus.

In a statement, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who is also a member of the House Select Subcommittee on Coronavirus Crisis, called upon the Biden administration to release AstraZeneca vaccine doses to India which has been reeling under the second wave of Coronavirus cases.

"We are sitting on a stockpile of close to 40 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which we are not using and which we have already opened to combat Covid-19 in Mexico and Canada. To prevent the virus from spreading internationally, and to protect our international economy, we need to get those vaccines out of the door now. I strongly request Biden administration to release millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses to hardest-hit countries," Raja Krishnamoorthi said.

The United States has been receiving tremendous backlash over social media over its stand. 

Some global think-tanks believe that the Biden administration is losing any goodwill it gained in the last few months with Indians.

"Indian public has now seen tweets from Pakistani Prime Minister and the Iranian Foreign Minister; had offers of help from Russia and China i.e. even a country it has had hostilities with. It has not heard from any senior US officials. Biden admin is losing any goodwill it gained in last few months with Indians," tweeted Tanvi Madan, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute.

Hours after this tweet, the US government did actually speak up.

In a statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: "Our hearts go out to Indian people in the midst of the horrific Covid outbreak. We're working closely with our partners in the Indian government and we will rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India and India's healthcare heroes."

This was followed by a tweet by Jake Sullivan, White House National Security Advisor to Joe Biden who said: "The US is deeply concerned by the severe COVID outbreak in India. We are working around the clock to deploy more supplies and support to our friends and partners in India as they bravely battle this pandemic. More very soon."

Why not an interim arrangement for India?

According to Carnegie South Asia Director Milan Vaishnav, there are at least four key elements of a response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in India. 

"First, we need to see senior US leadership express solidarity with the Indian people. To Indians and Indian Americans, empathy will be welcome. Second, the US has the capacity to provide oxygen, ventilators, medication and emergency supplies. The public sector can galvanize private support," Milan posted on Twitter.

"Third, access to essential vaccine materials. The DPA (data protection) issue is real but hardly black and white. Government of India, USG, Serum Institute -- their stories don't match up. Here's the good news: The government of India has finally delivered a list of what it needs. Now, the Government can work the problem," he said.

"Finally, vaccines. The US is pivoting from domestic to international provision. The crisis may demand an interim arrangement for India. The supposed AZ (AstraZeneca) stocks are shrouded in mystery. While these should be looked at, it seems to me the one-shot, easy storage J&J is even better."

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