Alarge number of Democrat and Republican legislators in the US Congress have been riveted to India this week. Not out of geostrategic considerations; their concern, as evident on Monday, is embedded in a humanitarian issue, specifically the deadly resurgence of coronavirus. It thus comes about that several lawmakers and Governors have urged the Biden administration to supply more Covid vaccines to India.
They have said that India is in crisis and the US has a “responsibility to help its close allies fight the deadly pandemic”. The fervent appeal must have resonated in the echo chambers of the American capital. There is little doubt that President Biden is under legislative pressure. It thus remained for the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbot, to declare that “the crisis in India is devastating and demands more action from President Biden”.
He was explicit on the point that more Covid “vaccines and medical supplies are needed to help one of our most important global allies fight this virus”. In a tweet, Abbott urged US citizens to join him in praying for India in what must be reckoned as an almost exceptional expression of concern over public health in India.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Republican Senator Ted Cruz ~ “India is a critical friend of the US. Biden’s vaccine sharing programme is flawed: We should prioritise our allies such as India, and make sure it receives the Covid-19 vaccines they desperately need.” Implicit in his presentation is the fact that the distribution of vaccines beyond the frontiers of the United States has been less than appropriate.
Senator Roger Wicker from the Senate Armed Services Committee said that it was important for the US to continue helping other nations beat the coronavirus. He underlined the fact that the US had excess vaccines and they should be sent to India. “Sending excess vaccines to close allies like India doesn’t just make sense, it is the right thing to do,” the Senator said. The concern for India was crucially the common strand that ran through the presentations.
Not that President Biden has been impervious to India’s suffering. His noble gesture towards coronavirus patients is in refreshing contrast to the direly ignoble attitude of his predecessor, one that has wrecked the health of the United States and its economy. The President had announced last month that he would send an additional 20 million doses of vaccines abroad by the end of June including, for the first time, shots approved for domestic use, where supply is beginning to outstrip demand.
In a remarkable bout of benevolence, almost exceptional, the United States will export 20 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna Inc. or Johnson & Johnson. This is in addition to 60 million AstraZeneca doses that he had already planned to give to other countries, according to a senior administration official. Reports do suggest that the measures constitute only the first step as America rivets its attention to quelling the pandemic abroad.