Int'l community rushes medical supplies to India to help arrest record surge in COVID-19 cases

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Washington/Melbourne, Apr 26 (PTI) The international community has started rushing medical equipment and supplies to India, which continues to witness a record spike in the coronavirus cases, with the Biden administration saying it was 'working around the clock' to deploy all resources and supplies to bolster the country's 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 in several states are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.

To combat the growing demand for oxygen in the country, India has reached out to various countries to procure containers and oxygen cylinders.

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have assured India and its people of providing all assistance, including urgently sending necessary medical life-saving supplies and equipment, to help the country combat the deadly coronavirus crisis.

“Just as India sent assistance to the US as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,” Biden said in a tweet.

'The US is working closely with the Indian government to rapidly deploy additional support and supplies during an alarming COVID-19 outbreak. As we provide assistance, we pray for the people of India —including its courageous healthcare workers,” Harris tweeted.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, in a telephonic call with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on Sunday, affirmed America’s solidarity with India in the wake of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

Observing that the US is 'working around the clock' to deploy available resources and supplies, NSA spokesperson Emily Horne said that the US has 'identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India”.

US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy said the aid extended by the US to India includes raw material for vaccine production, therapeutics, rapid diagnostic kits, ventilators, oxygen generation and related supplies, financial support for vaccine manufacturing expansion and deployment of American public health teams.

The Biden administration had come under criticism from several quarters, including from members and supporters of the Democratic Party, for not releasing surplus COVID-19 vaccines to India when the country was experiencing its worst-ever public health crisis.

India has urged the US to supply the raw materials for manufacturing the Covishield vaccine.

US Defence Secretary Austin Lloyd has also directed the Pentagon to provide all necessary support to Indian healthcare workers battling the worsening coronavirus situation in the country.

'In the next few days, we will provide transportation and logistics assistance to deliver needed supplies to India, including oxygen-related equipment, rapid testing kits, and personal protective equipment,' Austin said.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his Microsoft counterpart Satya Nadella have also assured help to India as the country grapples with a ravaging coronavirus crisis that has put enormous pressure on its hospitals due to a shortage of beds, oxygen and medical supplies.

'Devastated to see the worsening Covid crisis in India. Google & Googlers are providing Rs 135 crore in funding to @GiveIndia, @UNICEF for medical supplies, orgs supporting high-risk communities, and grants to help spread critical information,' Indian-origin Google CEO Pichai tweeted.

Microsoft’s Indian-origin CEO Nadella said that his company will continue to use its resources and technology for relief efforts and support for buying oxygen devices.

At the JFK Airport in New York, 318 Philips Oxygen Concentrators were loaded at the Air Indian plane headed to New Delhi.

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said the bloc has activated its Civil Protection Mechanism and the EU executive is already coordinating with member states that are ready to provide urgently needed oxygen and medicine rapidly.

'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. Our #ERCC is already coordinating EU MS that are ready to provide urgently needed #oxygen & medicine rapidly,” he tweeted.

'Alarmed by the epidemiological situation in India. We are ready to support,' European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted.

Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Monday that his country will send oxygen, ventilators and personal protective equipment to India as part of an immediate support package to the country.

'India is literally gasping for oxygen,' the federal health minister said. “And while we can assist with the national medical stockpile, their particular request is for assistance with regards to the physical supply of oxygen. That will be one of the things we are looking at, in particular with the states.” The federal government also confirmed to send oxygen, ventilators and personal protective equipment to India as part of an immediate support package to be announced on Tuesday, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation news channel.

Saudi Arabia has shipped 80 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen to India.

On Saturday, the Indian Air Force brought four cryogenic tanks, to be used for transporting oxygen, from Singapore as the country scrambles to meet the spike in demand for medical oxygen. PTI TEAM ZH AKJ ZH ZH