The capacity-boosting supplies are expected to arrive in the coming days.

Medical and oxygen-related support is being worked out from at least 40 countries that will send items to deal with the pandemic’s second wave in India, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday. The capacity-boosting supplies are expected to arrive in the coming days from countries like Egypt, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Guyana, apart from the big powers like Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia. 

“Over forty countries, have come forward to offer assistance in whichever capacity possible. We have got commitment of assistance from Europe, Gulf region, and even further parts of the world, Australia, New Zealand and countries like Guyana which are located geographically further away,” said Mr Shringla to the media. 

He said around over 550 oxygen generating plants  being sourced from governments, community groups, corporates and private individuals are being brought to India. The consignments are likely to include over 4,000 oxygen concentrators and over 10,000 oxygen cylinders. The announcement for the global mobilisation of resources by the Foreign Secretary came hours before the first consignment of oxygen cylinders, regulators, rapid diagnostic kits, N95 masks and pulse oximeters from the United States took off for India in a C-5M Super Galaxy and a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. The two aircraft are expected to reach India by Friday. 

While the large scale support from the big powers are being flown in, important assistance is on the way also from developing countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh has announced 10,000 anti-viral vials, 30,000 PPE kits, and several thousand zinc, calcium, vitamin C and other necessary tablets that will be sent to India in the coming days.  Bangladesh is also being tapped for Remdesivir, an important drug in India’s fight against COVID-19. 

“We have tried our best to reach out to the supply sources including original manufacturers like Gilead Sciences. We have also contacted Egypt. Gilead Sciences has committed 4,50,000 doses of Remdesivir. We are hopeful of getting 4 lakh doses from Egypt. We know that Bangladesh is manufacturing some and there are stocks in Uzbekistan and UAE. We are trying to get those stocks so that we can cover these short term gaps,” said Mr Shringla. 

Following the April 25, telephone conversation between Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of UAE and  External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar, a special cargo for medical aid including 157 ventilators, 480 BiPAPs and other medical supplies arrived from UAE to India on Thursday.

Three oxygen generation units will be sent from surplus stocks in Northern Ireland to support India by providing more oxygen to those suffering from COVID-19. The oxygen units are each capable of producing 500 litres of oxygen per minute, enough for 50 people to use at a time. This follows the UK’s recent action to support India with 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 ventilators sent from surplus stocks. The first batch of these medical supplies arrived in Delhi on Tuesday and the rest is expected to arrive on Friday. According to the Defence Ministry, as on Thursday, the Indian Air Force carried out 16 sorties from abroad, airlifting 27 oxygen containers with 460 MT of capacity. 

“Partner countries like Russia, and those from Southeast Asia, UK, France Germany, and our own neighbours have been generous and forthcoming on their own. Many of these countries have put this in the context of the assistance that they have received in the past (from India). If countries are coming forward it is also because of the global goodwill that were generated in the past. Our international partnerships and cooperation are supplementing our domestic resources to fight the second wave of the COVID-19,” said Mr Shringla. 

Mr Shringla also pointed out that vaccine cooperation under “Quad” consisting of Australia, Japan and the United States are proceeding “very well”. “Massive additional capacities of vaccines are being created,” said Mr Shringla, adding there will be a “very very significant” increase in domestic vaccine production in the coming two-three months.

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