Biden-Harris Administration Lays Out Plan for Delivering COVID Aid to India; Supplies to Begin Arriving April 29
Patients breathe with the help of oxygen masks inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid-19 coronavirus ward in New Delhi on April 27. Earlier in the week, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state would supply India with various oxygen-related equipment. (Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images)
By SUNITA SOHRABJI/India-West Staff Reporter
The Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration April 28 laid out its plan for delivering emergency COVID aid to India, stating that supplies would arrive beginning the following day and continue into next week.
“Reflecting the United States’ solidarity with India as it battles a new wave of COVID-19 cases, the United States is delivering supplies worth more than $100 million in the coming days to provide urgent relief to our partners in India,” read a statement released by the White House. U.S. Government assistance flights will be used to deliver the aid.
India is battling a crisis of epidemic proportions as daily new infection rates rise to more than 300,000, and daily death tolls are 2,000. Public health experts say the reported numbers represent a gross underestimate. Hospitals have run out of beds, therapeutics, and — most critically — oxygen supplies.
The U.S. will provide an initial delivery of 1,100 oxygen cylinders, which can be refilled locally. Additional cylinders will be provided at a later date. The Centers for Disease Control has procured oxygen cylinders in India and will distribute them to local hospitals in coordination with the Indian government.
The U.S. is also providing 1700 oxygen concentrators to obtain oxygen from ambient air, and oxygen generation units, which can each support up to 20 patients. Additional mobile units will provide an ability to target specific shortages. A team of U.S. experts will support these units, working hand-in-hand on the ground with Indian medical personnel.
Fifteen million N95 masks are being shipped to protect both patients and Indian health care personnel. One million rapid diagnostic kits, which provide Covid test results in less than 15 minutes, are being sent in an attempt to help identify and curb community spread.
The U.S. is diverting its own supply of raw materials to the Serum Institute of India to manufacture the vaccine Covishield. At a background press briefing April 26, a senior administration official noted: “Given that there is not enough of the supply for the entire global manufacturing effort and in light of the current crisis, we, the United States, are diverting our order to India.”
20,000 treatment courses of the antiviral drug Remdesivir will be shipped to help treat hospitalized patients. The White House also announced that CDC experts will work hand-in-hand with India’s experts in several areas, including vaccine rollout; bioinformatics for genomic sequencing and modeling; and infection prevention and control.
In its statement, the White House noted that U.S. COVID-19 assistance has already reached more than 9.7 million Indians across more than 20 states and union territories, “providing life-saving treatments, disseminating public health messages to local communities; strengthening case-finding and surveillance; and mobilizing innovative financing mechanisms to bolster emergency preparedness.” It has partnered with more than 1,000 Indian healthcare facilities to strengthen preparedness, and trained over 14,000 people on infection prevention and control.
Two hundred state-of-the-art ventilators have been provided to 29 healthcare facilities in 15 states to care for critically-ill COVID-19 patients.
The White House lauded individual states, private companies, non-government organizations, and thousands of Americans who have provided aid to India, in the form of supplies or monetary contributions.
Earlier in the week, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state would supply India with 275 oxygen concentrators; 440 oxygen cylinders; 240 oxygen regulators, which provide for greater efficiency in the rate at which oxygen is delivered to patients; and 210 pulse oximeters, small sensors generally clipped to the finger, toe or ear lobe that measure the oxygen saturation within an individual’s blood to determine whether they are getting enough oxygen into their bloodstream.
California will also send one Deployable Oxygen Concentrator System, which is capable of producing 120 liters per minute of oxygen and is generally used to fill large cylinders.
The distribution of supplies from California is being coordinated through the U.S. Agency for International Development and will be provided directly to health care providers and front-line workers.
“When communities across the world need help, California steps up. As we surpass 28 million vaccinations and continue to see the lowest positivity rates in the country, we must meet this moment with compassion by aiding those that are hardest hit by this pandemic,” said Newsom April 26. “Everyone deserves quality medical treatment against this terrible disease, and California will answer the call and provide aid to the people of India who so desperately need it.”