Massive US Covid help en route to India

Washington: Supplies and assistance to help India battle a second COVID-19 wave began making their way from the United States on April 28 with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announcing that the “world’s largest military aircraft” had left Travis Air Force Base in California for New Delhi.

The aircraft is carrying supplies that included 440 oxygen cylinders donated by California, 100,000 N95 masks and 960,000 rapid diagnostic tests, USAID said. The agency is procuring 1,000 oxygen concentrators and said it had sent over $23 million in assistance to India since the start of the pandemic, The Hindu reported.

The U.S. government has also diverted its order of Astra Zeneca manufacturing supplies to India. The White House said this diversion will enable India to produce another 20 million doses of vaccines at least.

President Joe Biden had spoken at length with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and conveyed solidarity with India even as India was recording a million cases every 3 days and more and more states besides Maharashtra and Delhi were imposing lockdowns or other restrictions.

The White House also released a list of materials and other assistance it was sending to India. It said that an initial delivery of 1,000 cylinders will stay in India, getting repeatedly refilled via local supply centers and “more planeloads” would come. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was also procuring oxygen locally (in India) and will be coordinating with the government to deliver them to hospitals.

Other supplies included 1,700 oxygen concentrators, oxygen generation units (supporting 20 patients each), 15 million N95 masks, 1 million rapid diagnostic tests and the first tranche of 20,000 doses of anti-viral remdesivir (the U.S. manufacturers and patent holders, Gilead Sciences has already committed at least 450,000 doses).

“U.S. CDC experts will work hand-in-hand with India’s experts in the following areas: laboratory, surveillance and epidemiology, bioinformatics for genomic sequencing and modeling, infection prevention and control, vaccine rollout, and risk communication,” the White House said.

Image courtesy of (Photo courtesy ANI)

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