India is among beneficiaries receiving 25 million vaccines from US
US President Joe Biden's administration has announced its plan to distribute an initial 25 million (2.5 crore) of the the 80 million (8 crore) total promised vaccine doses it plans to donate across the globe. The US, which enjoys one of the world's highest coronavirus vaccination rates, has received a plethora of requests for vaccine supplies from countries facing COVID-19 surges, including India.
75% will go to the global COVAX program
Of the 25 million doses, 19 million will be distributed through the COVAX program, a global effort that aims to support the most vulnerable countries. Vaccines shared through that program will be prioritized for Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. And roughly 7 million (70 lakh) will go to India and its neighbors including Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Remaining 6 million to reach India, Mexico, Palestine, others
Now, the remaining 6 million doses will be sent directly by the US to the countries it has prioritized. They include India, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, and the UN frontline workers, according to reports. The United States' overall plan is to send 80 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world by the end of June, hence more similar shipments will be made.
J&J, Pfizer, and Moderna are part of the shipment
According to the White House, the initial shipment will include doses of vaccines developed by three top American firms - Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna. However, shots of AstraZeneca vaccine will not be included, as they are yet to be cleared by US authorities.
US VP Harris assures PM Modi of vaccine supply aid
Just ahead of Thursday's announcement, US Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, assuring him that India will benefit from the vaccine sharing plan. "The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation to Vice President Harris for the US decision (sic)," the central government said. Meanwhile, Indian envoy to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu also said India will be a "significant recipient."
'Strong American leadership essential to ending this pandemic'
"Strong American leadership is essential to ending this pandemic now, and to strengthening global health security for tomorrow...The United States will be the world's arsenal of vaccines in our shared fight against this virus," President Biden said in a statement.
3% of 1.3 billion Indians have been fully vaccinated
India began inoculating its population of 1.3 billion this January. However, the effort has been marred by serious shortages of doses, forcing the country to halt its exports and rush imports. By far, India has administered nearly 22 crore doses of its approved coronavirus vaccines. 12.6% of the population has received at least one dose and just above 3% have been fully vaccinated yet.
India has 3 approved vaccines, many more in pipeline
India has so far given emergency use permission to three COVID-19 vaccines - the indigenously-developed COVAXIN, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and Russia's Sputnik V vaccine. The country is expected to soon grant approval to Pfizer and Moderna as it aims to bolster its dwindling vaccination drive.