U.S. COVID-19 assistance en route to New Delhi

We’re committed to use every resource at our disposal to support India’s frontline healthcare workers: Defense Secretary

Supplies and assistance to help India battle a second COVID-19 wave began making their way from the United States on Wednesday, with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announcing that the “world’s largest military aircraft” had left Travis Air Force Base in California for New Delhi. The aircraft is carrying supplies that included 440 oxygen cylinders donated by the State of California, 1,00,000 N95 masks and 960,000 rapid diagnostic tests, USAID said. The agency is procuring 1,000 oxygen concentrators and said it had sent over $23 million in assistance to India since the start of the pandemic.

The White House also released a list of materials and other assistance it was sending to India. It said an initial delivery of 1,000 cylinders will stay in India, getting repeatedly refilled via local supply centres and “more planeloads” would come. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was also procuring oxygen locally (in India) and will be coordinating with the government to deliver them to hospitals.

Other supplies included 1,700 oxygen concentrators, oxygen generation units (supporting 20 patients each), 15 million N95 masks, 1 million rapid diagnostic tests and the first tranche of 20,000 doses of anti-viral remdesivir (the U.S. manufacturers and patent holders, Gilead Sciences has already committed at least 4,50,000 doses).

The U.S. government has also diverted its order of AstraZeneca manufacturing supplies to India as The Hindu had reported earlier this week. The White House said this diversion will enable India to produce another 20 million doses of vaccines at least.

“U.S. CDC experts will work hand-in-hand with India’s experts in the following areas: laboratory, surveillance and epidemiology, bioinformatics for genomic sequencing and modelling, infection prevention and control, vaccine rollout, and risk communication,” the White House said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin thanked Travis Air Force Base and others involved in in “hustling to prepare” the USAID shipment.

“As I’ve said, we’re committed to use every resource at our disposal, within our authority, to support India’s frontline healthcare workers,” Mr. Austin tweeted.

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