Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra met with Indian Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan to discuss the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases in India and reaffirm strong U.S. support to India in this time of crisis.
Their meeting highlighted the strong relationship between the United States and India. The U.S.-India bilateral relationship in health, one of the oldest and most successful aspects of the wider U.S.-India relationship, continues to be a major link between the two nations, cutting across several sectors. Secretary Becerra and Minister Vardhan remarked that the U.S.-India bilateral cooperation on COVID-19, which builds on this strong foundation, has been crucial not only for the health of our two countries, but critical to the global response as well.
Secretary Becerra expressed his deep gratitude to Minister Vardhan for India’s help and generosity to the U.S. in the early days of the pandemic, and expressed his pleasure that the U.S. has been able to respond now in kind to support India in its time of need.
Minister Vardhan expressed his appreciation to Secretary Becerra for the recent U.S. donation of urgently needed resources to battle the ongoing surge of cases. These supplies include oxygen tanks, oxygen generators, therapeutics, vaccine manufacturing components, PPE, and rapid diagnostic tests among other critical items. In addition, public health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue to work hand in hand to support the efforts of their Indian counterparts.
The Secretary also noted the recent announcement of U.S. support for a waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and future World Trade Organization negotiations. He thanked Minister Vardhan for India’s leadership on this important issue.
Finally, the Secretary and Minister Vardhan discussed the need to work closely together in the international arena, including strengthening of the World Health Organization and building upon lessons learned from the COVID-19 response. In recognizing Minister Vardhan as the chair of the WHO Executive Board, Secretary Becerra emphasized that the U.S. looks forward to working closely with India on WHO reform.