Washington/Delhi: US Vice President Kamala Harris has told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the US will be sending Covid-19 vaccines to India, following which Modi thanked her for the support from the US government.
The electronic conversation took place as US President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that India will receive Covid vaccines directly from the US stockpile, the White House said.
Modi tweeted, “I deeply appreciate the assurance of vaccine supplies to India as part of the US Strategy for Global Vaccine Sharing. I also thanked her (Harris) for all the support and solidarity from the US government, businesses and Indian diaspora.”
Biden, who has faced international and domestic pressure to share surplus vaccines, said he is releasing the first set of 25 million doses of which six million will be shared between India, South Korea, Mexico and Canada.
The six million “will be shared directly with countries experiencing surges, those in crisis, and other partners and neighbors,” he said without giving a breakdown of how many doses will go to India.
His spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the vaccines could go out as soon as Thursday “as we are working to operationalize this, which is kind of a historic Herculean effort.”
Harris has spoken to several international leaders, but till Thursday there had been no mention by the White House of a conversation with Modi, which may be their first direct interaction.
The Biden-Harris administration plans to share at least 80 million vaccines globally by the end of June.
Modi tweeted that they “discussed ongoing efforts to further strengthen India-US vaccine cooperation, and the potential of our partnership to contribute to post-Covid global health and economic recovery”.
Biden said that the US would share more vaccines from its stockpile.
According to some media reports, the US may have as many as 500 million surplus doses of vaccines in the coming months. Former President Donald Trump had taken the risky step of ordering millions of doses of vaccines — far beyond the national requirement — from several companies under his Operation Warp Speed.