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United States to discuss broader distribution, India calls for renouncing patent protection

Earth personnel unload coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emergency supplies from the United States at the Indira Gandhi International Airport freight terminal in New Delhi, India on April 30, 2021.

Prakash Singh | Reuters

WASHINGTON – White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Sunday that the Biden administration is seeking to distribute the coronavirus vaccine to India and other countries, now that millions of Americans have received their doses.

In recent weeks, India has struggled with a staggering increase in new coronavirus infections. Over the weekend, India reported 400,000 daily cases, bringing the country̵

7;s cumulative total to 19,557,457 cases, according to figures collected by Johns Hopkins. The tip may have been triggered by a highly contagious Covid variant, known as B.1.617, which was first identified in the country.

The variant has since been identified in other countries, including the United States.

On Friday, the White House announced that it would limit travel from India as the country works to counter its wave of Covid-19 infections.

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

Klain said the United States has sent therapy, rapid diagnostic test kits, fans and protective equipment to the world’s largest democracy, as well as raw materials essential to vaccine production.

“Our US Trade Representative Katherine Tai is going to the WTO next week to start negotiations on how we can make this vaccine more widespread, more licensed and more shared,” he said when asked if the Biden administration would ease patent protection on coronavirus vaccines.

Klain added that he expected the White House to have more to say on the matter in the coming days.

Earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the repeal of the patent protection of the coronavirus vaccine with Biden, according to a reading of the summons. The easing would give governments faster and more affordable access to the life-saving doses.

Last week, the Biden administration announced that it would immediately make raw materials for India’s coronavirus vaccine production available. The American reaction came after Britain, France and Germany promised aid to India, the world’s largest democracy. Rich nations have come under fire in recent days to procure the raw materials needed to make the shots.

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