Dear President Biden:
We write to urge you to accelerate U.S. efforts to support other countries as they work to combat the COVID-19 virus. As the United States strengthens its capacity to fight this virus, with vastly expanded testing and widespread vaccinations for Americans, we must ramp up our support to countries that are being particularly hard hit, such as India, through the provision of medical supplies and surplus vaccinations. U.S. government agencies – both civilian and military – should be mobilized to lead an international response to the pandemic that both protects the American people from the virus and supports other countries’ efforts.
Numerous countries are facing record-breaking surges and a devastating number of deaths daily. India is a case in point. As co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus, we are watching with growing alarm the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, which has overwhelmed hospitals and the overall health system in India. India is the now the epicenter of this crisis and faces a severe shortage of testing kits, vaccines, oxygen equipment, personal protective equipment, and medical facilities. India is also in great need of treatments and medicines, including oxygen, monoclonal antibodies, Remdesivir, and high quality dexamethasone to combat the virus.
As is the case in this global crisis, this unmitigated surge in COVID-19 not only threatens India and its people, but it threatens the entire world as variants emerge, and nations continue to struggle to limit the virus’ spread. We urge you to find ways to increase support to the most impacted countries, including India, with surplus vaccines, supplies, and field hospitals, as they battle to reduce the number of deaths and new cases.
The United States has demonstrated real ingenuity and a capacity to scale up its COVID-19 testing and vaccination regimes during the pandemic. We have conducted more than 300 million tests. Now, as the United States averages 2.82 million vaccine doses per day, new cases and deaths have dropped significantly. Even accounting for current and anticipated need domestically, there is now a surplus supply of testing kits that can have the greatest impact abroad, along with personal protective equipment that so many countries desperately need. In addition, with millions of unused AstraZeneca vaccine doses on hand, the U.S. has the ability to send many abroad without a detrimental impact to our own vaccination efforts at this crucial time. We applaud and encourage your efforts to share AstraZeneca doses with India and other countries in need as they come available.
Finally, we congratulate you for taking specific actions to remove obstacles that would get in the way of sending excess vaccines to India. While India has significant capacity to vaccinate, its per capita vaccination rates are insufficient to cover such a large population. Further, we urge you to remove the export embargo on raw materials to India used in vaccine production, which would allow The Serum Institute of India to ramp up production of vaccines that it already produces domestically. We ask that you also assess similar barriers that prohibit the sharing of excess vaccines with other nations.
As you design your strategy to provide assistance to India and other nations, we ask that you consider the needs outlined above. This pandemic has devastated populations and nations across the globe, making very clear that the virus knows no borders. In order to control its spread globally, saving lives abroad and here at home, we must do our part to attack the virus where it is most devastating and active. We appreciate your commitment to helping our global partners in our shared efforts to combat this disease, and we thank you for your attention to this important matter.