Nation shaken, says PM; US, UK, EU pledge help on vaccines to oxygen
With the Covid-19 surge crippling the country’s healthcare system, United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called up his counterpart NSA Ajit Doval and conveyed to him that “just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need”.
From vaccines to its ingredients, oxygen tankers to oxygen concentrators — US, UK and EU pledged help to India. This comes the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Mann ki Baat radio address, said that the Covid storm had “shaken” the country and was “testing our patience.”
More than 600 pieces of vital medical equipment will be sent to India to support the country in its fight against Covid-19, the UK Government said.
“The United States has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India,” a White House statement said, after the Sullivan-Doval call.
“To help treat Covid- 19 patients and protect front-line health workers in India, the United States has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will immediately be made available for India. The United States also is pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis,” it said.
According to the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), an industry-led think tank and lobby group, “India will soon receive at least a dozen ISO containers that will help transport oxygen within the country. These containers are being shipped or airlifted from different parts of Asia. Another dozen containers have already been identified for shipment to India and efforts are on to triple this number.”
“Members are working on airlifting oxygen cylinders into Delhi and a few other states that face shortage of oxygen supply,” USISPF said.
Through generous donations of its member companies, USISPF has placed orders to source 1 lakh portable oxygen concentrators for use at home and hospitals to be shipped to India immediately. USISPF is already in touch with manufacturers in US, Mexico, Malaysia and China. Sourcing of these concentrators is a challenge due to supply side constraints.
“India will soon also receive a significant shipment of vaccine directly from pharmaceutical companies,” it said.
The USISPF has approached companies in the US to supply and/or donate ICU beds, Covid-Test kits, N-95 Masks and other medical equipment. “We expect the shipments to begin as early as Tuesday/Wednesday of the coming week”, it said.
The US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is funding a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for BioE, the vaccine manufacturer in India, enabling BioE to ramp up to produce at least 1 billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2022.
Additionally, the United States is deploying an expert team of public health advisors from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and USAID to work in close collaboration with the US Embassy, India’s health ministries, and India’s Epidemic Intelligence Service staff. USAID will also quickly work with CDC to support and fast-track the mobilization of emergency resources available to India through the Global Fund.
From the UK, nine airline container loads of supplies, including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators, will be sent to the country this week.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Vital medical equipment, including hundreds of oxygen concentrators and ventilators, is now on its way from the UK to India to support efforts to prevent the tragic loss of life from this terrible virus.”
Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted: “Our hearts go out to the Indian people in the midst of the horrific COVID-19 outbreak. We are working closely with our partners in the Indian government, and we will rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India and India’s health care heroes.”
Indian ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu thanked both Blinken and Sullivan for their “reach out and support”.
The EU commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, said that the 27-nation bloc will do its utmost to mobilise assistance to support people of India. Lenarcic, the European Emergency Response Coordinator, said, “Upon request for assistance by India, we have activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The EU will do its utmost to mobilise assistance to support people of India.”
He said the bloc is already coordinating and is ready to provide “urgently needed oxygen & medicine rapidly”.
Meanwhile, the union’s ambassador to India Ugo Astuto said that the EU, along with member countries, will do its “utmost to support India in this difficult moment”.
A top Canada Foreign Ministry official said that they are also mobilising resources to help India. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also expressed solidarity with India and said that “global cooperation is imperative to end this global tragedy”.