U.S. Chamber of Commerce Joins With USIBC, USISP, 40 Private Companies to Deliver Covid Aid to India
A U.S. Air Force aircraft is seen on the tarmac after landing with Covid-19 coronavirus relief supplies from the U.S. at the Indira Gandhi International Airport cargo terminal in New Delhi on April 30, 2021. “Fighting the pandemic effectively will require concerted action on all fronts. At this time, the need is enormous, and all resources have to pooled,” said USISPF’s Indian American president and CEO Mukesh Aghi. (Prakash Singh/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
India-West Staff Reporter
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the U.S.-India Business Council and the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership, has launched an alliance with 40 American companies to deliver critically-needed emergency Covid relief to India.
The public-private partnership — A Global Task Force on Pandemic Response: Mobilizing for India — will provide India with critical medical supplies, vaccines, oxygen and other life-saving assistance amid an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, said the Chamber in a press statement.
“What we are witnessing in India is a stark reminder that while the United States has turned a corner in our efforts to combat the pandemic, our global partners are facing a staggering health crisis that requires a substantial public-private response,” said Suzanne Clark, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“This global crisis requires a global response, and the American business community could not be better positioned, or more determined, to help lead the way.”
“We understand the importance of public-private partnerships to address global problems,” said Clark. “The steps we take together can help the world’s second largest country and provide a playbook to combat the virus until safe and effective vaccines are more widely and globally available.”
India has been beset by a crisis of cataclysmic proportions, with 2,000 Covid-related deaths per day, and 300,000 new infections. Public health experts say that actual rates of deaths and infections are about five times higher: 10,000 deaths per day, and one million new infections. Particularly troubling is a new double mutant variant, far more contagious and lethal, which is showing up in about 20 percent of new infections.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell met with members of the alliance April 27. Business leaders spoke of the crisis’ humanitarian and economic impact. Blinken shared a readout of an April 26 call between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in which the president pledged to help India and to release 60 million doses of its supply of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. It is unclear whether the U.S. will release all 60 million doses to India, where vaccine rollout has been slow. Fewer than 10 percent of India’s population have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a web portal which allows partner companies in the U.S. to determine which supplies are critically needed, and also to provide cash and in-kind donations. Donors can drill down in the portal — https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/indiaresources — to determine how they can best help.
Immediate health needs as of May 3 include:
*makeshift hospitals and the technical support to build these quickly
*expanded bed capacity, especially in smaller cities
*strengthening the oxygen supply chain and expanding capacity for transporting oxygen tanks of 10 liter and 45 liter size
*oxygen generator plants
*BiPAP machines, used for patients experiencing difficulties with breathing
Also critically needed are the drugs Remdesivir and Tocilizumab.
Cash donations can be routed through:
*American India Foundation
*PM-CARES Fund (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situation Fund)
USISPF said the organization and its members stand at the ready to support assistance by the U.S. government for India.
“Fighting the pandemic effectively will require concerted action on all fronts. At this time, the need is enormous, and all resources have to pooled,” said USISPF president and CEO Mukesh Aghi. “We are working closely with the Government of India to ensure seamless movement of critical equipment and supplies. USISPF will be soon setting up a dedicated web portal to centralize the efforts of individuals and other companies.”
The organization has advocated for a waiver of current restrictions on the export of vaccine raw materials to ensure production of vaccine in India can continue uninterrupted.
USISPF has already facilitated a donation of one dozen ISO containers that will help transport oxygen within the country. These containers are being shipped or airlifted from different parts of Asia. Another dozen containers have already been identified for shipment to India and efforts are on to triple this number. Members are also working on airlifting oxygen cylinders into Delhi and a few other states that face shortage of oxygen supply.
USISPF has placed orders to source 100,000 portable oxygen concentrators for use at home and hospitals: these will be shipped to India immediately. Sourcing of these concentrators is an enormous task due to supply side constraints, said the organization, adding however, that it is working with manufacturers several countries to secure and deliver the concentrators.
India will soon also receive a significant shipment of vaccine directly from pharmaceutical companies, said USISPF in a statement, adding that it has also approached companies in the US to supply and/or donate ICU beds, Covid-Test kits, N-95 Masks and other medical equipment. Shipments began last week.
On the ground, USISPF is working with member companies and NGO partners to set up vaccination and medical centers on corporate campuses in India.