A prominent group of Indian-American doctors on Friday urged the US government to release at least 30 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses to India to help meet its "acute and severe" shortage in the country, which is experiencing one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in the world.
The American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin (AAPI), the largest representative body of Indian-American doctors in the United States, has also written letters to all the 100 senators, seeking their support in increased assistance to India.
AAPI said it has been working with the White House officials and urging the administration the importance and the need to send the much-needed vaccines to India to prevent and contain the spread of the virus.
At present, India is experiencing acute and severe shortages of the COVID-19 vaccines. AstraZeneca is releasing 60 million vaccines after due FDA approval this month. We urge the US government to release at least 30 million doses of the vaccine to India, said Dr. Sampat Shivangi, member National Advisory Council, SAMHSA, Center for National Mental Health Services, and currently serving as AAPI's Legislative Wing chairman.
While providing all possible help and support that is essential at this critical period, AAPI recognises that in the long term, vaccination is still the best therapy and hope, he said.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is unlikely to be used in the country by the Biden administration.
Biden had recently said that he intended to give AstraZeneca vaccines to other countries.
The request by AAPI, which is the second largest doctors' body after American Medical Association, comes after a top American civil rights leader Rev Jesse Jackson urged President Joe Biden to release 60 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses for India.
We at AAPI are determined to mobilise the massive medical help and support that India needs at this hour. Any further spread of such toxic material around the globe can only be apocalyptical, a specter that could be prevented now, Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, AAPI president said in a statement.
The doctors' association so far has raised USD 2.6 million to help India in its fight against the pandemic. It has sent 1,000 oxygen concentrators and is in the process of sending another 1,000, a media release said.
In addition to oxygen concentrators, it has sent masks, PPPs and essential supplies to India.
AAPI has also sought blanket immunity and indemnification from the Indian government for offering their voluntary services to COVID-19 patients either virtually or in-person by flying to their home country.
"We request the Government of India through an emergency declaration (to) provide a blanket immunity and indemnification for volunteering physicians from the USA, providing COVID related medical care in India," said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, AAPI president-elect.
"We are continuing to interact with the physicians back in India to answer their questions. AAPI as a group and individual physicians are reaching out almost on a daily basis with doctors on ground in India," said Dr. Ravi Kolli, vice president of AAPI.
With a record 4,14,188 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India's total tally of COVID-19 cases climbed to 2,14,91,598, while the active cases crossed the 36-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)