US says it looks forward to ”overarching” MoU to enhance health cooperation with India


PTI, Feb 23, 2021, 10:58 AM IST

Washington:  The US has said it is looking forward to an “overarching” memorandum of understanding to enhance health partnership with India and asserted that the cooperation between the two countries on COVID-19 builds on decades of successful collaboration in health and biomedical research.

The US on Monday crossed the grim milestone of 500,000 COVID-19 deaths. With 28,184,218 coronavirus cases and 500,172 deaths due to the disease so far, as recorded by Johns Hopkins University, America is the worst-affected nation.

“We look forward to an overarching MoU to enhance health cooperation between our two countries (US and India). We are working together on developing diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines to combat the disease (COVID-19) and to recognize the importance of manufacturing critical drugs during this time and making them accessible globally,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday.

The total number of coronavirus cases in India stands at 1,10,05,850 — the second in the world after the US. The death toll is 1,56,385 — fourth globally.

“India”s pharmaceutical sector is strong and well-established and has long played a central role in manufacturing life-saving vaccines for global use. We are pleased that the US pharmaceutical industry has been coordinating with Indian companies since the beginning of this pandemic,” Price said, responding to a question on India donating and supplying domestically manufactured COVID-19 vaccines to several countries across the globe.

Known as the ”pharmacy of the world”, India produces 60 percent of vaccines globally. India has sent consignments of domestically manufactured coronavirus vaccines to several countries, including Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Seychelles, Myanmar, Mauritius, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, South Africa, Brazil, and Morocco.

“When it comes to the broad issue of coordination between the United States and India on COVID-19, I would say that cooperation between our two countries builds on decades of a successful partnership in health and biomedical research,” Price said.

The US is partnering with India to strengthen the global response to COVID-19 — ranging from addressing infectious disease outbreaks, strengthening health systems to securing global supply chains, he said.

India and the US recently welcomed an initiative to collaborate on infectious disease, including COVID-19 and other emerging threats, through the International Centre of Excellence and Research, Price said.

In a recent op-ed in Newsweek magazine, India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, wrote that in recent years, India has emerged as the “pharmacy of the world”, with great capabilities in bulk production of generic drugs and vaccines, in addition to its experience immunizing a large population.

India recently stepped up to provide vaccines to neighboring countries and other partners, including in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, he said.

The US has resources and scientific capabilities that make it a natural, complementary partner in supporting a number of other countries seeking to fight the pandemic, Sandhu wrote.

“Furthermore, from the provision of active pharmaceutical ingredients to generic medicines that have lowered drug prices and created jobs and investments, India has demonstrated its reliability as a supply chain partner, especially as de-risking from single country supplies has become a priority,” he said.

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