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US remains committed to helping India recover from its second COVID-19 wave

The US remains committed to helping India recover from its devastating second wave of coronavirus and stands ready to support it until the virus is defeated, a top Biden administration official said on Monday.

With 39,361 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,14,11,262, while the daily positivity was recorded above three per cent after 35 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday. The COVID-19 death toll climbed to 4,20,967 with 416 fresh fatalities.

The active cases have increased to 4,11,189 and comprise 1.31 per cent of the total infections. An increase of 2,977 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours, it said.

“We remain committed to helping India recover from its devastating second wave and stand ready to support our partners until we have defeated the virus,” United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power said during the swearing-in ceremony for incoming USAID Mission Director for India Veena Reddy.

Reddy, who is originally from Andhra Pradesh, made history on Monday by becoming USAID’s first-ever Indian-American India Mission Director.

“Veena and I also share a bit of history; we both arrived in the United States as immigrants from Ireland – and we may or may not still be trying to overcome an Irish brogue,” Power said.

“Veena’s journey from Andhra Pradesh to Ireland, then to the United States embodies the best of what we – a nation of immigrants – has to offer. A determined sense of possibility. A bold vision that paves the way for sustainable and inclusive development around the world,” Power said.

India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu and America’s Charge de ’Affairs at the US Embassy in New Delhi Atul Keshap also spoke during the swearing in ceremony.

Power said that Reddy’s continued leadership in the Indo-Pacific region was an asset, both for the people of India and the United States.

“Veena brings a wealth of experience to one of USAID’s most complex portfolios. Our longstanding partnership with the government, private sector, and civil society has led to significant reductions in poverty, dramatic gains in public health, and spurred the country’s remarkable economic growth,” she said.

“But like much of the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated long-term inequality and set back efforts to generate inclusive prosperity. In May, India was witness to a truly terrifying spike in COVID-19 cases, peaking at over 400,000 newly-discovered cases a day,” Power said.

She said the US was quick to spring into action, working with the Department of Defense (DoD) colleagues to send several planeloads of health commodities to the Indian Red Cross—nearly 1,500 oxygen cylinders, 700 concentrators, one million rapid testing kits, 2.5 million N95 masks.

“We also lent our expertise, working with the government of India to establish oxygen-generating plants at 150 hospitals. And we continue to work with the Government of India on its vaccination campaign—the world’s largest—helping supply doses both through COVAX and bilaterally,” she said.

A significant component of US’ pandemic response efforts – and development efforts broadly – is increased engagement with India’s robust private sector, she said.

Between 2014 and 2019, USAID established 54 private sector partnerships that have leveraged USD 505 million in additional financial resources toward the two countries shared development goals, Power said.

“Leveraging our resources. Stretching our money further. USAID India can be a model for our development efforts globally, as private sector engagement serves as a powerful tool to implement creative solutions that address the secondary impacts of COVID-19 on the economic, health care, and education systems.”And critically, as Ambassador Keshap said, our partnership with India’s private sector is making headway in clean energy, environmental reform, and in combating the effects of climate change,” she said.

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