U.S in Talks to Widen Covid Vaccine Licensing as India Faces Fatal Rise in Covid Cases

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White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain reported that the Biden administration is in discussion to distribute the coronavirus vaccine to India and other countries now that the millions of Americans have been vaccinated, Sunday. 

The recent weeks, India has seen a deadly rise in new coronavirus cases. Over the weekend, the country has reported 400,000 daily cases, bringing the total amount of infections to 19,557,457, according to Johns Hopkins. 

The sudden spike is due to the highly contagious Covid variant, B.1.617, which was first identified in the country and is now present in other countries, including the United States. 

The White House announced on Friday that it is restricting travel from India as its response to the surge of COVID-19 infections. 

“We are rushing aid to India,” Klain said during an interview on CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Klain said that the U.S has sent therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and protective equipment to the world’s largest democracy as well as raw materials crucial for vaccine production.

“Our U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is going to the WTO next week to start talks on how we can get this vaccine more widely distributed, more widely licensed, more widely shared,” he said when asked if the Biden administration would relax patent protections on the coronavirus vaccine.

Additionally, Klaid said that he expected the White House to say more on the matter in the coming days. 

Earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a discussion with Biden in terms of lifting the patent protections of the coronavirus vaccine, according to a readout of the call.

Last week, the Biden administration announced that it will make the raw materials needed for India’s COVID-19 vaccine production available. This call came after Britain, France, and Germany promised to aid India, the world’s largest democracy. 

Recently, rich nations are scrutinized for hoarding raw materials for the vaccines.