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The US will help India produce more coronavirus vaccines, releasing raw materials and expanding factories in broad push to blunt its COVID-19 crisis

  • The US will provide supplies for testing, drugs, and vaccines to fight India’s COVID-19 crisis.
  •  A National Security Council spokesperson said the US is “working around the clock” to help India.
  • Resources include raw materials and funding needed needed to ramp up vaccine manufacturing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US is providing a broad package of relief to India, government leaders said Sunday, as the world’s second-most populous country fights a historic wave of COVID-19. 

The US will immediately make available raw materials needed to produce Covishield, the Indian brandname for the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine, as well as personal protective equipment, testing kits, drugs, and ventilators, Emily Horne, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, said in a statement Sunday. 

The US will also fund an expansion of one of India’s leading vaccine manufacturers, BioE. Money from the US Development Finance Corporation will allow BioE to produce 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2022, Horne said. 

Horne’s statement followed a Sunday call between US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Ajit Doval, the top national security advisors for India. The readout did not specify how much raw materials, diagnostics, therapeutics, and other medical equipment will be provided by the US’ action.

India recorded 349,691 new cases on Sunday, smashing a global record for a fourth consecutive day. Hospitals are being overrun and medical supplies are in short supply. Vaccinations have also been few and far between, with less than 2% of the population fully immunized.

Hospitals are struggling among shortages of beds and oxygens, some saying they only have a few hours’ of oxygen supply left. 

Over the last few days, a growing chorus of doctors and public-health experts have urged the US government to do more, including donating vaccine doses and providing raw materials.

Horne’s statement did not reference a donation of any existing vaccine doses that the US has. Some experts have called for the US to donate its supply of AstraZeneca’s shot, which has not won authorization in the US. 

The US government signed a deal with AstraZeneca last summer to eventually deliver 300 million doses of the shot. The US already has at least 30 million of those doses on hand, a supply which experts say would be best used by donating to other nations that need it.

Vice President Kamala Harris said on Twitter, “The U.S. is working closely with the Indian government to rapidly deploy additional support and supplies during an alarming COVID-19 outbreak. As we provide assistance, we pray for the people of India—including its courageous healthcare workers.”

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health, called the US’ assistance “excellent steps,” while noting it does not mention using the American supply of AstraZeneca’s shot.

The US and India will “stay in close touch in coming days,” Horne said, with the US “working around the clock to deploy available resources and supplies.”

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