U.S. says to make COVID-19 vaccines available to India

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Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday told India about its plans to make COVID-19 vaccines available to other countries, including the South Asian nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office said.

The U.S. move comes after the White House laid out a plan to share 25 million surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses with the world and said it would lift some restrictions to allow other countries to buy American-made supplies for vaccine production more easily.

In a phone call on Thursday, Modi and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris discussed efforts to improve the bilateral health supply chain, including in vaccine production, the Indian premier's office said in a statement.

"They highlighted the potential of the India-U.S. partnership as well as the Quad vaccine initiative in addressing the long-term health impact of the pandemic."

The Quad, an informal strategic dialogue among the United States, India, Japan and Australia, aims to reduce manufacturing backlogs, speed vaccination, and defeat some coronavirus mutations, a senior U.S administration official told Reuters previously.

Separately, a spokesman for India's foreign ministry said New Delhi was in dialogue with Washington to ensure the supply of raw materials for vaccine production.

India also raised the issue during its foreign minister's recent U.S. trip, the spokesman said. "It is in our mutual interest to combat the global pandemic by expediting vaccination efforts."

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Richard Chang)