COVID-19 surge in India heartbreaking; US determined to help the country: VP Kamala Harris

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Describing the surge of COVID-19 infections and deaths in India as “nothing short of heartbreaking”, Vice President Kamala Harris said on Friday that the country’s welfare is critically important to the United States.

Pledging that the Biden administration is determined to help India in its hour of need, Harris said that the entire government machinery has been galvanised to help the country in this hour of crisis.

India is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than 4,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days, and hospitals are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, when our hospital beds were stretched, India sent assistance. And today, we are determined to help India in its hour of need,” Harris said in her remarks at the State Department’s Diaspora outreach event on US COVID Relief for India.

“We do this as friends of India, as members of the Asian Quad, and as part of the global community. I believe that if we continue to work together – across nations and sectors – we will all get through this,” Harris said.

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced USD 100 million assistance to India to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. In about a week’s time, as many as six plane loads of COVID-19 assistance have landed in India. The entire administration has been galvanized to help India in this hour of crisis. The White House and the State Department is coordinating with the corporate sector, which has mounted an unprecedented private sector relief for any country ever.

Indian-Americans have been raising millions of dollars and have been sending life-saving health care equipment and medicines to India. Sewa International USA has raised more than USD 10 million, American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin or AAPI have raised USD 3.5 million and Indiaspora more than USD2 million, to name some of them.

In her remarks, Harris recognised the contribution of Indian-Americans on the issue.

“For years, diaspora groups like Indiaspora and the American India Foundation have built bridges between the United States and India. And this past year, you have provided vital contributions to COVID-19 relief efforts. Thank you for your work,” said the vice president.

“As many of you know, generations of my family come from India. My mother was born and raised in India. And I have family members who live in India today. The welfare of India is critically important to the United States,” Harris said.

“The surge of COVID-19 infections and deaths in India is nothing short of heartbreaking. To those of you who have lost loved ones, I send my deepest condolences. As soon as the dire nature of the situation became apparent, our Administration took action,” she said, referring to the steps that the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to help India in this hour of crisis.

On April 26, President Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to offer America’s support. By April 30, US military members and civilians were delivering relief on the ground, she said, referring to the whole-of-government approach that the administration has taken to help India.

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