US determined to give support amid COVID-19 surge, says Kamala Harris; AAPI writes to 100 US Senators urging release of Astra Zeneca vaccines to India
Our Bureau Washington, DC
India is in a desperate situation, pleading with countries around the world to send help. India is especially looking at the US to provide support. Both the US government and Indian American organizations are now sending help.
India is struggling with an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 400,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days. The spread of COVID-19 in India is escalating and the associated morbidity and mortality is causing havoc and panic in the society. The critical shortage of essential supplies of medication, oxygen, ventilators and physicians burn out have a further catastrophic consequence in the survival of hundreds of millions of Indian citizens.
Asserting that the welfare of India is critically important to the United States, US Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday said Washington is determined to New Delhi in “its hour of need” amid a COVID-19 surge in the country.
Addressing an event, Harris said that the surge of COVID-19 infections and deaths in India is nothing “short of heartbreaking”. “As many of you know, generations of my family come from India. My mother was born and raised in India. And I have family members who live in India today. The welfare of India is critically important to the United States,” she said, while addressing the event titled: ‘Bolstering US COVID-19 Relief Effort in India: Perspectives from the Diaspora’.
The Vice President extended deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones to the COVID-19.Harris reminded that India sent assistance when US hospital beds were stretched and now Washington is determined to help India “as friends, as members of Asian Quad and as part of the global community”.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, when our hospital beds were stretched, India sent assistance. Today, we’re determined to help India in its hour of need. We do this as friends of India, as members of the Asian Quad and as part of the global community. I believe that if we continue to work together – across nations and sectors – we will all get through this,” she said.
Harris has noted that the US has announced its “full support” for suspending patents on COVID-19 vaccines – to help India and other nations vaccinate their people more quickly.”On Monday, April 26, President Joe Biden spoke with the Prime Minister to offer our support. By Friday, April 30, U.S. military members and civilians were delivering relief on the ground,” she said.
“Already, we have delivered refillable oxygen cylinders, with more to come. We have delivered oxygen concentrators, with more to come. We have delivered N95 masks, and have more ready to send. We have delivered doses of Remdesivir to treat COVID patients,” she added.
Recently, the White House announced that the US will be delivering medical supplies worth more than USD 100 million in the coming days to India to provide urgent relief as the country battles a new wave of COVID-19 cases.
Under the immediate emergency COVID-19 Assistance, Washington is providing 1700 oxygen concentrators, an initial delivery of 1,100 cylinders, multiple large-scale Oxygen Generation Units to support up to 20 patients each, to India.The Biden administration has also redirected its own order of AstraZeneca manufacturing supplies to India, which will allow it to make over 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, the American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin (AAPI), which represents nearly 100,000 thousands of Indian-origin Doctors in the US, has been in the forefront, pioneering efforts both here in the US and back home in India, spearheading numerous initiatives to help, guide and support the people and the physician community in India on ways to combat and overcome the deadly virus.
While describing the current situation in India as “heart wrenching,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of AAPI said, “We at AAPI are determined to mobilize 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. Jonnalagadda said, “AAPI, the second largest Medical Association in USA after the AMA, has been galvanized extensively, and AAPI has immediately shipped over a thousand Oxygen generators, masks, PPPs and essential supplies, and our pipeline will continue until the pandemic is overcome. As with anyone else, our doctors believe that they can best carry out our service to God through our service to our fellow humans.”
While providing all possible help and support that is essential at this critical period, AAPI recognizes that “In the long term, vaccination is the still the best therapy and hope. At present, India is experiencing acute and severe shortages of the Covid-19 vaccines. Astra Zeneca is releasing 60 million vaccines after due FDA approval this month. We urge the US government to release send 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, Washington DC and currently serving as AAPI’s Legislative Wing Chairman.
AAPI has been working with the White House officials to have an in-person meeting arranged for the AAPI leadership to meet with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other top US administration leaders, urging the importance and the need to send the much-needed vaccines to India to prevent and contain the spread of the virus.
In the letters sent to the 100 US Senators, while acknowledging the respect and influence each of them command on Capitol Hill, Dr. Shivangi said, “we seek your strongest effort to convince the White House to permit more vaccine raw material to be released immediately for local vaccine production, as well as increasing all types of assistance, in a catastrophe of such magnitude.”
AAPI has urged the Indian American community “to be the spokespersons for humanity, and convince our President, Mr. Joseph Biden, our Vice – President, Mrs. Kamala Harris, along with the Chief of White House Mr. Ron Klain, and not the least, your colleagues in the US Senate. We are delighted that President has declared America’s return to world affairs, and he should be at the helm of this emergency response.”
Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI BOT, said, “We have a team of volunteers and support and guidance of experienced leaders, who have come forward to enable and empower our efforts to curtail this crisis.”
“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,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI said, adding that it is in addition to the calls being received from their friends and families back home.
“Indeed, a proud moment for AAPI,” said Dr. Amit Chakrabarthy, Secretary of AAPI. “The prestigious New York Times as the second most prominent international organization in this effort (after UNICEF)!!! This is a proud moment for all of us. Please continue to support and donate at aapiusa.org.” Dr. Sathesh Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI said, “In less than a week, AAPI has raised USD 2.6 million. AAPI has so far sent 1,000 oxygen concentrators and is in the process of sending another 1,000. We have tied up with UNICEF, Sewa International USA, and several other non-profit bodies to secure and coordinate efforts to reach help to the suffering in India.”