Showing its egotistical behavior after India asked for its help to curb the spread of COVID-19 amid the second wave, the US has now stepped up to help India. The United States has now agreed to send raw material to India 'urgently required' for the Covishield vaccine. It remains significant to note here that the US has changed its decision in just two days. It is a couple of days back when the US and its government quashed SII CEO Adar Poonawalla and India's request to lift the embargo on the export of raw materials even after knowing that India was looking to ramp up its vaccination drive. This US' decision not only has added salt to Indias wound but also threatened the future goodwill of the bilateral relations between the two countries.
While showing their 'America First Ego' the Biden admin ignored the request and said the US is focusing on vaccinating the American people. Not caring about other world and being selfish, US even said that it is not only in the US interest to see Americans vaccinated, but it is in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated.
How did the US change its mind?
The US has succumbed to India's diplomacy after receiving just one phone call from National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Soon after the US denied lift-up its Cold War-era Defense Production Act, which has blocked raw materials essential for vaccine production, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval took the matter into his hand and dialed up to the US. During which he spoke to US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and discussed the covid situation in India. During the call, Sullivan expressed deep sympathy for the people of India following the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
According to the White House, in the conversation, Sullivan informed Doval that the US has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India. Apart from this US has also agreed to provide supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)kits to India. The USA has also dispatched oxygen concentrators from New York to India along with other more medical supplies and resources to fight the surge in coronavirus cases in India.
The United States is also deploying an expert team of public health advisors from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and USAID to work in close collaboration with the U.S. Embassy, India’s health ministries, and India’s Epidemic Intelligence Service staff. Moreover, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has also directed the Pentagon to provide all necessary support to Indian healthcare workers battling the worsening coronavirus situation in the country. "The men and women of the Department of Defense stand by our Indian partners in their hour of need. We are in this fight together," Austin said in a statement on Sunday.
Soon after the decision US POTUS Joe Biden who become deaf, when the Serum institute CEO Adar Poonawalla urged him to lift the ban, has now taken the social media and said the US has determined to help India. "Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need," Biden said on Twitter. Not only Biden but surprisingly Vice President Kamala Harris also assured that the US is working closely with the Indian government to rapidly deploy additional support and supplies during an alarming COVID-19 outbreak. "As we assist, we pray for the people of India including its courageous healthcare workers," she said in a tweet.
It should be noted, Joe Biden had revoked the Cold War era Defense Production Act to secure priority supplies of materials needed to control the disease. The 1950 Act was originally passed to help ensure supplies and equipment during the Korean War. Following which it has blocked raw materials essential for vaccine production. These raw materials include reagents, tubing materials, nano-filters, plastic bagging material, and equipment that are understood to be needed for ramping up vaccine production.
These export restrictions from key suppliers have affected global production and have interrupted the global vaccine supply chain. Indian Vaccine maker Serum Institute of India has been forced to reduce its production due to raw material shortages. This raw-material shortage has also hampering vaccine supplies in India.
Looking at that when SII and External Ministry Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also urged the US to supply the raw materials, but they were ignored by the US admin. Biden and his administration had got criticize for that arrogance. It was also pointed out that the US and POTUS have forgotten how India helped them when the US was suffering from the same crisis last year. Last year, Narendra Modi's government eased an export ban on the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine at the request of the former US President Donald Trump who had touted it as a “game-changer”. Not only that, but the government also eased the ban against nitrile butadiene rubber gloves, in the interest of protecting frontline workers across the US, and the globe.
The fact that statements from 4 high-level members of the US administration were issued in a single day regarding the same issue and the speed of resolution of the same, highlights the pressure which would have been put on the US from the Indian side. This US' sudden behavioral change has raised lots of questions. Did Ajit Doval say something that forced the US to take this decision? Did the US fear India will cut its raw material dependency on the US and will start to become Aatmanirbhar in raw material? Or the US changed its mind due to India's earlier assistance?