Indian-American Scholar Urges US To Send AstraZeneca Jabs to India

The Quint
·2-min read

As India comes to grips with a frightful second wave of COVID-19 infections, with multiple international news publications taking note of the horrors unfolding in the country, an Indian-American physician Ashish K Jha urged the United States administration to send spare doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to the subcontinent.

According to a report by New York Times, American manufacturing facilities are hoarding tens of millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca, awaiting trial results.

The fate of those doses has recently come under public scrutiny, with some White House and federal health officials arguing that they should be sent abroad to countries that are in dire need of extra jabs.

India, which granted emergency approval to AstraZeneca’s vaccine in January, reported the world's biggest-ever daily surge in COVID-19 infections on Thursday, with 3.14 lakh new cases recorded in the last 24 hours.

The country’s daily infection tally has reached an all-time high, with over two lakh COVID-19 cases being recorded everyday since 15 April. The first wave, in comparison, had seen a peak of 97,400 infections recorded in 24-hours.

Amid a crumbling healthcare infrastructure, several states and hospitals are reporting shortages of medical oxygen, hospital beds, ventilators and COVID-19 medications, some states see a crisis unfold in their crematoriums. India introduced a new vaccine policy on Monday, 19 April, which will expand its ongoing vaccine drive to all above the age of 18 from 1 May.

The Centre had announced that it is fast-tracking approvals for foreign-produced COVID-19 vaccines last week, to expand inoculation in the country.

India has already granted emergency approval to three vaccines: Oxford/Astrazeneca’s vaccine Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute in India, the indigenously developed Covaxin by Bharat Biotech, and most recently, Russia’s Sputnik V.

While many states welcomed the new policy, several others also expressed concerns over vaccine shortage and increasing the burden of responsibility of the states.

Jha, who is the dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University made his appeal via Twitter on Thursday.

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