News Apr 27

World pledges aid as India battles Covid tsunami

Close and not-so-close allies have sparked into action to help India fight a coronavirus wave that has not only shaken the country but rattled the world too

World pledges aid as India battles Covid tsunami
Vital medical supplies poured into India as a surge in infections pushed the death toll beyond 200,000. Photo: Reuters

(ATF) With India reporting 323,144 new Covid cases, and 2,771 deaths – figures many say are grossly underestimated – in the past 24 hours, at least 15 countries have pledged aid to help the country deal with the crisis.

These include close allies like the US, Russia, UK, Germany, France, UAE, Australia and even China in the next few days, all of who have promised to help with supplies of oxygen, ventilators, medicines, and much more, needed to treat the exploding number of coronavirus cases.

In a show of solidarity, some US lawmakers and wealthy technology executives have also joined forces with about 40 top American companies creating a global task force to mobilise resources to help India fight what is being called a “Covid tsunami” by the Delhi High Court.

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The US on Monday announced a series of measures that included diverting raw material for vaccines, rushing out oxygen generators, the drug Remdesivir and health care workers.

“Today, I spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and pledged America’s full support to provide emergency assistance and resources in the fight against Covid-19. India was there for us, and we will be there for them,” President Joe Biden said in a Tweet.

A statement issued by the Modi’s office (PMO) also stated that Modi has discussed India’s initiative at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for a relaxation in the norms of the agreement on TRIPS to ensure quick and affordable access to vaccines and medicines for developing countries.

It added President Biden conveyed “solidarity with India on its fight against Covid" by “supporting India’s efforts by quickly deploying resources such as therapeutics, ventilators and identifying sources of raw materials to be made available for the manufacture of Covishield vaccines.”

BIDEN SUPPORT

Cutting across ideological lines, influential American lawmakers have come out in support of India, with Congressman Adam Schiff, Chair of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, urging the Biden Administration to urgently provide all possible help to the country.

According to the news agency Press Trust of India, a collective initiative of the US-India Business Council of the US Chambers of Commerce, and the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum and Business Roundtable, are creating a task force to provide India critical medical supplies, vaccines, oxygen and other life-saving assistance.

Called the Global Task Force on Pandemic Response: Mobilizing for India, this will be a first-of-its-kind country-specific global task force to address a public health crisis in another country.

Reuters has also reported that Indian-American billionaire and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, as well as other Indian-American tech executives at Google, IBM and Microsoft, are working closely with the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India.

INTERNATIONAL EFFORT

That aside, according to reports, 14 countries including Australia, China, Germany, Russia, the UAE and UK have pledged help.

On Monday, an Indian Air Force aircraft transported six cryogenic oxygen containers from Dubai, and is expected to airlift six more on Tuesday for the Adani group. A German company is expected to ship 24 more containers later this week.

"In the next few days, France will deliver to India not only immediate relief but also long-term capacities; including eight high-capacity oxygen generators, each providing year-long oxygen for 250 beds; liquid oxygen for 2,000 patients for five days and 28 ventilators and equipment for ICUs," French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said in a tweet.

Lenain said that the massive solidarity mission, initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron, aims to both respond to the emergency and boost the long-term resilience of India's healthcare system.

MACRON MISSION

Coordinated by the Ministry's Crisis and Support Centre and carried out by the Embassy of France in India, the mission will involve shipping by air and sea freight by the end of this week, said a statement issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The UK meanwhile has already begun sending ventilators and oxygen concentrator devices, and lifted the ban on sending raw materials to India for making more of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A press statement from the British high Commission in New Delhi said the UK was despatching “more than 600 pieces of vital medical equipment" to “support the country in its fight against Covid-19".

Indian government officials also reported that consignments are arriving from some countries in the European Union and Russia through the Indian Red Cross.

CHINA FLIGHTS

Spice Health, a local healthcare equipment manufacturing company announced that oxygen concentrators are being flown in from Hong Kong and China, as well.

“If India raises specific demands, China is ready to provide help and support to the best of capability,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Webin said.

The Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, also said that China will “encourage and guide Chinese companies” to facilitate supplies needed by India.

Terming the situation in India "beyond heartbreaking", the World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that the WHO is sending extra staff and supplies to provide assistance.

OXYGEN CONCENTRATORS

"The WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies, including thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies," Tedros told a news briefing.

He said he had already announced 2,600 extra WHO staff members were going to India to help support India’s vaccination efforts.

Meanwhile, the Indian government asked social media platform Twitter to take down dozens of tweets, including some by local lawmakers, that were critical of its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

An emergency order to censor the tweets on the Lumen database, a Harvard University project, was issued by the government on Saturday, following which, Twitter has withheld some of the tweets, said the company.

  • With media reports

Also on ATF:

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