U.S. to discuss wider distribution, India calls to waive patent protections
Ground staff unload coronavirus disease (COVID-19) supplies from the United States at the cargo terminal of Indira Gandhi International Airport on April 30, 2021 in New Delhi, India.
Prakash Singh | Reuters
WASHINGTON – White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Sunday that the Biden government plans to distribute the coronavirus vaccine to India and other countries after millions of Americans received their doses.
In the past few weeks, India has been grappling with a staggering surge in new coronavirus infections. Over the weekend, India reported 400,000 cases a day for a cumulative total of 19,557,457 cases. This is evident from numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins. The spike may have been triggered by a highly contagious variant of Covid known as B.1.617, which was first identified in the country.
The variant has since been identified in other countries, including the United States.
On Friday, the White House announced it would limit travel from India as the country works to counter the rise in Covid-19 infections.
“We are rushing to help India,” said Klain during an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation program.
Klain said the US has sent therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and protective equipment to the world’s largest democracy, as well as raw materials that are vital to vaccine production.
“Our US Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, will go to the WTO next week to begin talks on how we can further distribute, license and distribute this vaccine,” he said when asked if the Biden administration would protect patents The coronavirus vaccine would loosen up.
Klain added that he expected the White House to have more to say on the matter in the coming days.
Earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed with Biden about the revocation of patent protection for the coronavirus vaccine. The relaxation would give governments faster and more affordable access to the life-saving doses.
Last week, the Biden government announced that it would immediately provide the raw materials needed to manufacture coronavirus vaccines in India. The US response came after Britain, France and Germany pledged aid to India, the world’s largest democracy. Rich nations have come under fire in the past few days for hoarding the raw materials needed for the shots.