India on Friday received the first Covid emergency aid supplies from the United States amidst a worsening Covid-19 situation in India that is seeing over 3 lakh cases getting added everyday and a surge in the demand for medical oxygen and essential medical supplies. India also received assistance from Romania delivered by a Romanian defence ministry aircraft early Friday morning comprising 80 oxygen concentrators, 75 oxygen cylinders and 20 high-flow oxygen therapy.
The US consignment of supplies which flew in from the Travis military base in California, following President Joe Biden’s pledge of help in a telephone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 26 April, comprises 440 oxygen cylinders and regulators donated by California, 960,000 rapid diagnostic tests to identify infections early to help prevent the community spread of Covid-19 and 100,000 N95 masks to protect India’s frontline health care heroes provided by USAID. The US aid agency is also quickly procuring 1,000 medical oxygen concentrators that will be used in 320 primary health care facilities.
The US total commitment of aid amounts to more than $100 million of supplies to meet the health needs of Indians and this was the first of several shipments. The supplies to be delivered to India are 1,100 cylinders which will remain in India and can be repeatedly refilled at local supply centers, 1700 oxygen concentrators to obtain oxygen from ambient air, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid diagnostic tests.
There will also be oxygen generation units which can support up to 20 patients each and additional mobile units which will provide an ability to target specific shortages. The aid package also includes the first tranche of a planned 20,000 treatment courses of the antiviral drug remdesivir to help treat hospitalized patients. The US administration has redirected its own order of AstraZeneca manufacturing supplies to India, which will allow it to make over 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine.
Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla on Thursday stated that more medical aid from over 40 countries, mostly oxygen-related equipment and critical medicines can be expected to strengthen India’s response to the ongoing Covid surge. The UK is sending three oxygen generation units, each producing 500 litres of oxygen per minute and in the size of shipping containers.
India is looking at procuring 400,000 units of Remdesivir medicine from Egypt besides exploring to get it from countries like the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan.