Noting that India has been a major priority for Washington given the surge of COVID-19 cases in the second wave of pandemic, US President Joe Biden's point-person for global pandemic response has said that no decision has been taken regarding the ultimate allocation of the 80 million vaccines that will be shared with other countries by the US government.
Gayle Smith, the United States State Department's coordinator for global COVID-19 response and health security, said that the US response to the pandemic started with the announcement by President Biden earlier this week that the country will be sharing 20 million vaccines from its own stocks in addition to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca, and together 80 million vaccines will make the US largest vaccine sharer in the world.
Responding to the plan for India and doses under consideration for India, Ms Smith said, "I can't tell what allocation we have per country. Given the surge in India, it has been a major priority for us. We look at 100 million dollars in assistance and a mobilised private sector with amazing response. But no call has been taken on ultimate allocation but we will reach out."
"We are looking at all regions, given the constraint in vaccine supply everywhere. We have not made a final decision but we are looking at every region. The decisions will be made on the basis of need and collaboration with key partners and COVAX," she added.
Ms Smith also informed that COVAX is undertaking a scientific database in the allocation of vaccines and the US will be working with them to ensure that they can increase their own supplies.
On Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver for COVID vaccines and therapeutics, Ms Smith said that the US trade representative had already said that this is once in a lifetime situation and every option at the table needs to be looked at.
Ms Smith also said that President Biden has reiterated that the US "can do a great deal but can't do it alone."
She said the US is in close contact with its G7 partners and such collaboration will help efforts to get to the scale for bringing the pandemic under control.
On allocation of doses, she said that her country has stepped up sharing of vaccines and we will see other nations stepping up in sharing vaccines as well.
"Our intention is that we will share more than 80 million. Every region in the world is facing constraints. We are looking at how we will get the maximum coverage because the need exists everywhere. We would be consulting with COVAX, a vaccine delivery platform and with our partners. The time period of allocation depends on vaccines in hand for distribution and also because AstraZeneca's 60 million doses require FDA approval before we are sure that they are safe," she stated.
She said the US is working on supplies.
"We are aware of the systemic impact of COVID. We are discussing funding that will be available to mitigate some of the economic effects of the pandemic. We do not intend to use it to influence or (exert) pressure," she said, adding that vaccines are for public health and are meant to bring the pandemic to an end.
Ms Smith was the administrator of USAID for former president Barack Obama and served on the National Security Council for Obama and Bill Clinton. She led the US response to the Ebola crisis in 2014.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)