We understand India's pharmaceutical requirements: Biden administration
The Biden administration has conveyed to New Delhi that it understands India's pharmaceutical requirements and promised to give the matter due consideration, observing that the current difficulty in the export of critical raw materials needed to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines is mainly due to an Act that forces American companies to prioritize domestic consumption. Here are more details.
Raw materials can only be given to domestic manufacturers
President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump had invoked the war-time Defence Production Act (DPA) that leaves US companies with no option but to give priority to the production of COVID-19 vaccines and Personal Protective Equipment for domestic production to combat the deadly pandemic in America, the worst-hit nation. The US has ramped up production of COVID-19 vaccines mostly by Pfizer and Moderna.
SII CEO had raised concern over raw material shortage
Among other things, the DPA, which was enacted in 1950, authorizes the president to require businesses to accept and prioritize contracts for materials deemed necessary for national defense, regardless of a loss incurred on business. The issue received global attention in recent days after Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII), tagged President Biden in a tweet.
Here is Poonawalla's tweet
Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details. 🙏🙏— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) April 16, 2021
Taranjit Singh Sandhu has also been taking up the matter
The SII is the world's largest producer of the COVID-19 vaccine. Neither the US nor India has released details of the raw material that it is asking from the US. In recent weeks, India's Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu has been taking up the matter with the Biden administration officials. The top Indian diplomat has sought a smooth supply of certain inputs.
US has clarified that there are no export restrictions
In addition, officials from the two sides have held discussions to ease the supply of critical materials, considering their increased requirements in both the US and India. US side has clarified that there are no export restrictions on such items and that domestic regulations have only prioritized the use of these materials for the production of vaccines in the US, sources told PTI.
Earlier, White House refrained from answering related questions
Earlier in the day, the White House refrained from answering questions on the export ban on COVID-19 raw materials. Asked about the SII's request for the supply of raw materials, both Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Dr. Andy Slacitt, White House COVID-19 response senior advisor said that they do not have an answer yet.
We're very serious about global threat from pandemic: Dr. Slavitt
"I don't, I'm sorry...we could get back to you on that. I'm sure. But I don't have anything for you right now," Dr. Fauci said. "Suffice to say we are taking very seriously the global threat from the pandemic. We've been a leader in the funding of COVAX, have done several bilateral transfers of vaccines...we'll get back to you on specifics," Dr. Slavitt said.