New Delhi: The United States will "immediately" make available sources of raw materials required to scale up production of the Covishield coronavirus vaccine - of which there is a critical shortage as India fights daily new cases of over three lakh and an active caseload of nearly 27 lakh.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke to his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, on Sunday to confirm this, and also that his country had "identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and PPE suits that will (also) be made immediately available to India".
The US is also "pursuing options to provide oxygen and related supplies on an urgent basis" to help India overcome a shortage that has endangered the lives of thousands of both Covid-positive patients and those fighting other diseases.
"Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need," the US said.
The White House statement, however, did not mention sending surplus vaccines, as a backlash grows over the fate of a stockpile of some 30 million doses - of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University drug that the Serum Institute makes in India as Covishield - that not been approved for use.
Earlier on Sunday US Congressman, a Democrat from Illinois, made an appeal on those grounds.
The United States' offer of help on sourcing raw materials for vaccine production comes after appeals from Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla, whose Pune facility manufactures Covishield.
Last week Mr Poonawalla tweeted tagging President Joe Biden and asked him to lift an embargo on the export of raw materials. Imposed in February the "short-term embargo", according to The Washington Post, was to ensure US pharma giant Pfizer had resources to produce its vaccine.
That was after Pfizer - from whom the US has ordered several hundred million shots - said it was having difficulties meeting delivery deadlines.
The Serum Institute is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer and a key player in the production of enough doses to protect a large portion of the global population against the COVID-19 virus.
It is also, as of now, the principal supplier of Covid vaccines for the Indian government - to whom Bharat Biotech is supplying Covaxin - and which is reportedly facing a critical vaccine shortage just as a deadly new wave of infections sweep the country.
Starting next Saturday India has opened vaccination to everyone over 18 - including 101 crore people in the 18-44 group that were so far excluded, making any potential shortage a nightmare scenario.
The US' offer of help also comes hours after the United Kingdom said it was sending life-saving medical equipment to India - including ventilators and oxygen concentrators.
The first shipment is expected to reach Delhi early Tuesday, with more scheduled for the coming week. In total, nine containers carrying over 600 pieces - including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators - will be sent.
Hours before that the European Union also promised to help India in its fight to contain a wave of infections that has brought an already-creaking health infrastructure to its knees.
India reported 3.49 lakh new cases in 24 hours on Sunday morning - adding to the 3.46 recorded Saturday, the 3.32 lakh on Friday and the 3.14 lakh on Thursday.
The frightening surge has left hospitals overflowing, and oxygen and medicines in very short supply.
The week-long oxygen crisis in Delhi - where at least 50 patients died Friday alone due to supply issues - has grabbed much of the headlines, but the situation is as dire in other parts of the country.
The surge in cases in India, experts have said, is likely the result of more aggressive strains in circulation, in addition to people's laxity in following Covid-appropriate protocols.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose government has been criticised for failing to anticipate and plan for this wave of infections, has held multiple meetings over the past week.
Are you coupled up and thinking that your life has become somewhat routine? Take a fresh look through the eyes of an artist.
Curtis Wikland, an artist and photographer, has shared a unique way of capturing his everyday life with his partner and family. Here are 22 of his sketches that show moments that you may think of humdrum, can become poignant and meaningful memories in years to come.
No matter how busy you are, remember to take time to focus on the two of you together. Literally, shine the light on your relationship! Reflect on what you mean to each other, and what you share together.
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Who would abandon a small child like that, what are the chances of them surviving on their own?
These feral children ended up coming into contact with animals out in the wild, looking for companionship they never received from people and ended up being accustomed to their habits, much like a young animal would. It’s a chilling thought, looking at their lives, how we develop as humans when we are taken out of our safe social background.
Join us in learning more about these young fighter’s haunting stories!
This picture is a re-imagined scene about young Oxana, created by Julia Fullerton-Batten. The little Ukrainian girl was abused and neglected by her parents from a very early age until one night they locked her out of the house. She was only three years old – she ended up in the dog’s kennel by instinct, looking for comfort and warmth. The dogs took her in and she learned their behavior as if it was her own, communicating by barking and running around on all fours. She was taken from the parents at the age of 8, at this point she could only understand basic words.