Blinken’s statement came as pressure mounted on the Biden administration to ship excess Covid-19 vaccines along with several life-saving medical supplies to India which is witnessing a massive spike in coronavirus infections and deaths.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the US was working closely with Indian officials at both the political and experts’ level to identify ways to help address the health crisis.
“Our hearts go out to the Indian people in the midst of the horrific Covid-19 outbreak,” Blinken said in a tweet on Saturday night.
“We are working closely with our partners in the Indian government, and we will rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India and India’s health care heroes,” Blinken tweeted.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the United States is deeply concerned by the severe Covid outbreak in India.
“We are working around the clock to deploy more supplies and support to our friends and partners in India as they bravely battle this pandemic. More very soon,” Sullivan said.
With a record single-day rise of 3,49,691 new coronavirus infections, India’s total tally of Covid-19 cases climbed to 1,69,60,172, while active cases crossed the 26-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.
The death toll increased to 1,92,311 with a record 2,767 daily new fatalities.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter also told reporters that the US continues to work closely with India to facilitate the movement of essential supplies and also address the bottlenecks of the supply chains.
Several US lawmakers, eminent Indian-Americans and the powerful US Chambers of Commerce have voiced their concerns over the grim situation in India and have asked the Biden administration to extend assistance, release vaccines and other raw materials critical for India’s fight against the deadly virus.
Jeff M Smith, a research fellow from The Heritage Foundation think-tank said it is well worth remembering that when New York and other parts of America were facing a public health emergency in late 2020 due to the pandemic, the Indian government removed an export ban on the active pharmaceutical ingredient hydroxychloroquine, despite stark criticism at home.
Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi urged the Biden administration to release doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to countries currently experiencing the deadly surge in Covid-19 cases.
“When people in India and elsewhere desperately need help, we can’t let vaccines sit in a warehouse, we need to get them where they’ll save lives,” the Democratic Party lawmaker said.
“We are currently sitting on close to 40 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the US stockpile, a stockpile which we’re not using and which we’ve already opened to combat Covid-19 in Mexico and Canada,” he said.