American civil rights activist Rev Jesse Jackson Sr on Wednesday urged President Joe Biden to allocate at least 60 million vaccine doses to India out of the 80 million announced earlier by the US President. Jackson was joined by Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi making a moral appeal and the duo assured that help is on its way.
With India having the second highest population in the world, Rev. Jackson fears the variant in India could spread to the rest of the world. "Not only are they (India) our neighbor in democracy and ally, the disease is airborne. We help ourselves and the world when we help to ameliorate the virus," Jackson said at the new conference. "COVID-19 knows no national boundaries. It does not discriminate by race, religion or ideology," he further stated.
Alarmed at the 222,000 confirmed deaths in India and a second wave of the virus sweeping rural India, Rev. Jackson asserted the dire situation and there was an immediate need for vaccines in India." India needs respirators and oxygen now. The nation has already surpassed 100,000,000 vaccine doses. However, as this outbreak spreads, it is imperative for President Biden and the United States to step up even more to prevent the continued loss of life," Jackson said in his concluding remarks.
Indian American Congressman, Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, who had earlier called on President Joe Biden to release millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses to hardest-hit countries like India, once again reached out to the White House to roll out vaccines for the people of India and impacted communities around the world.
Rep. Krishnamoorthi, a strong Indian American voice, who is also a member of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, assured help to India.
"Help is on the way. And we are going to do everything we can. I'm a member of the special select committee on COVID in Congress. And so this is an area that I deeply care about. And so I'm going to be pushing very hard. Those who are ill I'm thinking about you. We are all praying for you. My own family was touched. Now we are going to try and we're going to try to help you in a fundamental way," he told media.
The news conference held in Washington earlier today also witnessed some of the prominent names within the Indian American community. Dr Vijay Prabhakar, national chairman, American Association of Multi-Ethnic Physicians, USA, thanked President Biden for his international vaccination pledge by providing 80 million COVID-19 vaccines, but he also urged Biden to give at least 60 million of those to India alone.
Dr Prabhakar says that the community is collectively pushing the Biden administration to invoke the Federal International Emergency Production Act which would enable the manufacturers of the vaccine in the USA to increase their production capacity and roll out the vaccines before May 31. "We need to protect India first. Only then can America and the rest of the world be protected," Dr Prabhakar said.
Also thanking President Biden for coming to the aid of India was Dr Bharat Barai, chairman, U.S. India Friendship Council, Munster, Indiana, who urged the President to facilitate the supply of the "much needed antiviral medications of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab to India immediately."