Indian envoy interacts with U.S. business community on COVID-19 relief efforts

Earlier the U.S. Chamber had urged the Biden administration to release unused AstraZeneca vaccine doses for use in India.

India’s Ambassador to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu held an interaction with members of the business community on the current COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country.

The virtual meeting was hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

During the talks, Mr. Sandhu appraised the business community of the items that India is trying to identify and source, including oxygen concentrators, cylinders, ventilators and oxygen generation plants and COVID-19-related drugs like remdesivir and tocilizumab.

"Appreciated the Chamber for coordinating the swift response and resource mobilization by the U.S. business community in support of India to meet the Covid challenge," Mr. Sandhu said in a tweet.

In the past few days, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has mobilised support, brought together partners from other industry bodies and coordinated with the U.S. government to deliver critical medical supplies to India.

Also read | Biden administration denies ‘outright ban’ on vaccine raw materials

Significant additional supplies of medical equipment are being dispatched by the private sector.

Earlier the U.S. Chamber had urged the Biden administration to release unused AstraZeneca vaccine doses for use in India.

Mr. Sandhu said he had an “important conversation” with Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer.

The Ambassador said he highlighted the Indian government’s decisions to facilitate import of vaccines and to fast-track emergency-use authorisations for those which have already been given approval in other countries.

Also read | U.S. defends restrictions on export of COVID-19 vaccine raw materials amid India’s request to lift ban

“Discussed ways in which Pfizer could support healthcare efforts including vaccines in India, and strengthen our pandemic response,” he added.

Two U.S. aircraft on their way

The Ambassador said two U.S. aircraft with oxygen equipment and other COVID-related supplies are on their way to India.

"Thank you @POTUS (President Joe Biden) for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with India during this challenging time," Mr. Sandhu tweeted.

WalMart CEO Dough McMillion had interacted with Sandhu a day earlier.

"My heart is breaking for our friends and associates across India as they battle a devastating surge in pandemic cases," Mr. McMillion said in a statement.

Also read | Calls grow for U.S. to help India with spare COVID-19 vaccines

Walmart is diligently working to deliver oxygen and vital equipment to communities across the country, he said.

FedEx also issued a statement saying it was continuing its support to the fight against COVID-19 and had plans to send a dedicated aircraft with thousands of oxygen concentrators and critical aid for healthcare facilities in India.

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