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Updated April 24th, 2021 at 18:30 IST

'America first': US denies India's request to lift ban on raw material of COVID vaccine

Days after Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla urged US President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on the export of vaccine raw material.

Riya Baibhawi
Image Credits: AdarPoonawalla/Twitter/Unsplash/AP
Image Credits: AdarPoonawalla/Twitter/Unsplash/AP | Image:self
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Days after Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla urged US President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on the export of raw material needed to ramp up vaccine production in India, the US State Department has said that their first obligation is to take care of the requirements of American people. Amidst India witnessing a killer second wave of coronavirus infection, pressure has mounted on the Biden administration to ship vaccine shots, particularly those by AstraZeneca Plc, as well as related raw material to India. While the American President has denied any outright ban on the export of raw materials, his administration’s priority for domestic demand has nixed their export to India and other states in dire need.

‘special obligation' 

Addressing press reporters in Washington DC earlier this week, State Department spokesperson Ned Price has clearly asserted that the US was “first and foremost” engaged in an “ambitious, effective and, so far, successful effort to vaccinate the American people.” He added that it was the administration’s had a “special responsibility” to America, which has been hit hardest by the pandemic. Answering questions about lifting the embargo on vaccine import to India, he further said that the administration was doing “as much as they can” for other countries, but with consistency to their first obligation.

“That campaign (vaccination) is well underway, and we’re doing that for a couple of reasons. Number one, we have a special responsibility to the American people. Number two, the American people, this country has been hit harder than any other country around the world; more than 550,000 deaths, tens of millions of infections in this country alone,” Price said Thursday adding that it was not only in the US’ interest to see Americans vaccinated, but in the interest of the rest of the world to see them immunised.

“The point the Secretary (of State Antony Blinken) has made repeatedly is that as long as the virus is spreading anywhere, it is a threat to people everywhere. So as long as the virus is spreading uncontrolled in this country, it can mutate and it can travel beyond our borders. That, in turn, poses a threat well beyond the United States,” Price said responding to questions.

Last week, Poonawalla tagged POTUS and urged the American administration to lift the embargo on raw material exports from the US. According to the SII Chairman, Bags and filters are amongst the few raw materials needed to scale up the production of both Covaxin and Covishield shots.

Image Credits: AdarPoonawalla/Twitter/Unsplash/AP

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Published April 24th, 2021 at 18:30 IST

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