The United States is working closely with India on its continued and emerging needs during the unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a top State Department official has said.
While the assistance from the U.S. government has been worth $100 million, the private sector has donated an additional $400 million, totalling half a billion dollars to India, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Tuesday.
Also read: Aid pours in from the world to counter India’s COVID-19 second wave
“We are continuing to work closely with Indian officials and health experts to identify continued needs and emerging needs in this ongoing crisis,” he said.
“I was talking about our catalytic effect in another context earlier… Secretary (of State) Tony Blinken, Special Coordinator Gayle Smith participated in calls the other week with the US India Business Council and the Chamber of Commerce in an effort to elicit additional supplies from the private sector, which we’d be terrifically gratified to see,” Mr. Price said.
Earlier in the day, top American senator Mark Warner spoke with India’s ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu and assured his full commitment for the assistance to India.
“India right now is at the epicenter of COVID-19. This morning I spoke with the Indian ambassador and pledged to do our part to help the Indian people respond to the surge. I will continue working with the Biden administration on this,” Mr. Warner said after the call.
Mr. Warner is Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Thanked him for his strong support for India during this challenging time,” Mr. Sandhu tweeted.
Congressman Andy Levin said that more needs to be done for India.
“We cannot lose sight of the catastrophe wracking India right now. While the US is starting to work to make vaccines more accessible, we must do more. The Indian people need equipment and other tools now to end this crisis,” he said.
Meanwhile, the 4th consignment of more than 78,000 doses of Remdesivir from Gilead Sciences reached India.
“More than 2,61,000 have reached so far, in addition to US Government support of around 1,25,000 doses. More to follow!” the Indian envoy tweeted.
‘Aid in US’ interest’
Congresswoman Deborah Ross said that helping India respond to this latest wave is humane and is in the US’ national interest as this pandemic will not end anywhere until it ends everywhere. “Please consider supporting groups that are providing what is needed locally on the ground,” she said.
Noting that India is seeing daily new COVID-19 cases at 400,000, and the deaths are catastrophic, Indian-American congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said that he is pushing the Biden administration to slow this dangerous rise in cases through sharing resources. “A COVID-19 fire anywhere in the world is a threat to us,” he said.
According to Mr. Price, there have now been six airlifts to India deployed by the USAID in the course of six days. Among the supplies included in those airlifts are 20,000 courses of Remdesivir, nearly 1,500 oxygen cylinders, 550 mobile oxygen concentrators, 1 million rapid diagnostic tests, nearly 2.5 million N95 masks, large scale deployable oxygen concentration system and pulse oximeters, he said. “In addition, USAID immediately allocated funding to purchase locally an additional 1,000 mobile oxygen concentrators,” Mr. Price added.
Meanwhile, Pentagon Spokesperson Peter Hughes said in response to a question that currently the Defence Logistics Agency is preparing 159 oxygen concentrators at Travis Air Force Base scheduled to ship via commercial air for a Monday delivery to India.
“We remain in close communication with our partners in the Indian Government “As (Defence) Secretary (Loyd) Austin has said previously, we’re committed to use every resource at our disposal, within our authority, to support India’s frontline healthcare workers,” he said.
India has been severely affected by the unprecedented second wave of the coronavirus and hospitals in several states are reeling under the shortage of health workers, vaccines, oxygen, drugs and beds.