International community extends cooperation to India in its fight against COVID-19

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London/Washington, Apr 27 (PTI) Consignments of vital medical supplies started arriving in India, which continues to witness a record spike in the coronavirus cases, as the international community extended their cooperation to New Delhi in its fight against the deadly disease.

India is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than 3,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days, and hospitals are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.

The first life-saving assistance package, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, from Britain to help India meet the urgent medical need arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday morning.

Further shipments are being organised over the course of this week and will include nine airline container loads of supplies, including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators, UK government sources said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country will send a range of goods to India to help as it struggles with a critical shortage of medical supplies.

Australia will send 500 ventilators, as well as 1 million surgical masks, 500,000 protective and surgical masks, goggles and face shields.

French President Emmanuel Macron's office said on Tuesday that the first aid shipment is expected to leave for India later this week. The shipment includes eight oxygen generators and each generator can equip a hospital of 250 beds for several years.

According to the French Foreign Ministry, breathing machines, pumps and containers of liquid medical oxygen aimed at helping up to 10,000 patients per day would also soon be dispatched to India.

The Biden administration seems to have adopted a mission mode approach and removed all bureaucratic hurdles to help India in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Various wings of the US government, including the Department of Defence, Department of Health and Human Resources, the State Department, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and US Trade Representatives have been activated to not only identify India’s need, but also to remove all the bureaucratic hurdles and ensure that all medical requirements start being airlifted to India as soon as possible.

'We are in close touch with Indian officials at all levels. We are also closely coordinating with our allies, friends, and Quad partners about how we can collectively support India in its hour of need,” a senior administration official told reporters, soon after President Joe Biden had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.

As requested by the Indian government, the US will be providing raw materials for the production of the Covishield vaccine at the Serum Institute of India, a second senior official said.

'At India’s request, we're exploring options to provide oxygen and related supplies. These are resources that India has specifically requested and are very high on their priority list,” a third official said.

According to the official, the Department of Defence is working on oxygen generation systems, including larger-scale as well as smaller-scale units. They are also exploring the provision of field oxygen generation systems, which the US has used in its own field hospitals to provide oxygen for 50 to 100 beds.

The administration has identified US commercial suppliers of remdesivir that are immediately available to help relieve the suffering of COVID-19 patients in India. It has identified rapid diagnostic testing supplies, as well as personal protective equipment, that will be available to be transferred to India immediately, the official said.

The Pentagon is working on a war footing to begin delivery of essential medical supplies to India in the next few days, a US official said, noting that prominent among these include oxygen-related equipment, rapid testing kits, and PPEs.

In a show of solidarity, the CEOs of about 40 top American companies have come together to create a first-of-its-kind country-specific global task force to mobilise resources and coordinate efforts to help India fight the battle against COVID-19.

A collective initiative of the US-India Business Council of the US Chamber of Commerce, and the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum and Business Roundtable, the task force during its meeting here on Monday committed to get 20,000 oxygen concentrators to India in the next few weeks, Deloitte CEO Punit Renjen told PTI.

US multinational financial services company Mastercard on Tuesday announced a commitment of USD 10 million to address the surging COVID-19 crisis in India.

To be delivered through the Mastercard Impact Fund, the contribution will focus on three priority areas – access to hospital resources, access to additional oxygen supplies, and continued support to its employees across the country, an official announcement said.

The US state of California, which has the highest concentration of Indian-Americans, will send life-saving oxygen supplies to India to deal with the latest surge of COVID-19 cases.

These include 275 oxygen concentrators, 440 oxygen cylinders, 240 oxygen regulators, 210 pulse oximeters, and one Deployable Oxygen Concentrator Systems, which is capable of producing 120 liters per minute of oxygen and is generally used to fill large cylinders.

Bhutan will supply life-saving liquid oxygen to India. Every day, 40 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen produced by the oxygen plant will be exported to Assam using cryogenic tankers, the Indian embassy in Thimphu said. PTI TEAM ZH AKJ ZH ZH