US extends USD half billion worth of Covid-19 support to India
Planeloads of oxygen concentrators, life-saving drugs and health care equipment are flying into India almost every day
The United States has extended financial assistance worth nearly USD half a billion to India to combat the second wave of coronavirus. This comes less than a fortnight after President Joe Biden in his conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged his country's steadfast support to India.
This half a billion dollars includes USD 100 million pledged by the Biden administration, USD 70 million by pharma major Pfizer and 450,000 Remdesivir doses, the governmental purchase price of each of which in the US is USD 390.
Thousands of oxygen concentrators and planeloads of life-saving drugs and health care equipment are flying off the United States for India almost every day.
On April 30, India received the first consignment from the US containing 423 oxygen cylinders with regulators (200 Size D, 223 Size H), 210 pulse oximeters, 184,000 Abbott Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits, and 84000 N-95 face masks from the US.
In the second consignment, India received 17 H-size (large) Oxygen Cylinders and 7,00,000 Abbott Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits.
The third consignment contained 1028 Type H oxygen cylinders (large) & 600 Type H oxygen cylinders Regulators, 20 Adaptors, 844800 N95 masks and was received on May 1.
Later, 125000 vials of Remdesivir and 545 oxygen concentrators were also received.
On May 5, India received 1 oxygen generating Plant, 286,080 Rapid Test Kits, 1386300, N-95 Face Masks, and 1.5 lakh vials of Remdesivir.
To date, the last consignment was received by India on May 8 of 25600 vials Remdesivir.
Besides this, several companies like Boeing and Mastercard have announced financial assistance worth USD 10 million each, Google has pledged USD 18 million, which the Global Task Force that comprises CEOs of top American companies have already pledged USD 30 million worth of life-saving equipment.
Describing it as a 'Berlin Life Moment', Mukesh Aghi of US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF), told a wire agency that he expects the assistance to touch almost USD 1 billion by the end of the month.
"It is emotional for the diaspora, almost everyone has someone who has been touched by COVID-19," he said.
Nisha Desai Biswal, president of US India Business Council (USIBC) said, "The outpouring of support from the United States over the past two weeks was a spontaneous mass mobilization of support for the Indian people from across the America government, the business community, and diaspora community and the American people."
"It is unprecedented, and it reflects both the deep bonds between our two countries and the gratitude that Americans feel for the role India played in supporting the United States when we were experiencing our COVID surge last year," she said.
However, given the "speed and severity" that have overwhelmed the capacity of hospitals and local authorities, more assistance will be needed and for a sustained period of the timescale of the pandemic, Biswal said.
Not only the Biden administration and financial companies have extended support, but people of the country and the Diaspora have also come out in large numbers.
Indian-American Vinod Khosla has committed USD 10 million, top corporate leader John T Chambers has promised USD 1 million.
For the first time in its history, Sewa International has raised USD 15 million; American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) (USD 3.6 million), Indiaspora (USD 2.5) million and Jai Shetty has raised USD 4 million.
"There has been overwhelming support and offers of assistance from the US Government, private sector, diaspora, and the American public at large. In fact, in my interactions in recent days, the US interlocutors across the board ask me, 'tell us what more we can do for India”, India's ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu was quoted by an Indian news agency as saying.
"They recall with fondness the help India gave. These are reflective of strong partnership and close people to people ties between our both nations. We deeply appreciate these gestures. We will continue to engage with the US in our collective fight against the pandemic," he said.
Among other major financial contributions announced include Procter and Gamble (USD 6.7 million); Merck (USD 5 million), Walmart (USD 2 million), Salesforce (USD 2.4 million), and Caterpillar (USD 3.4 million).
Companies like Deloitte have announced 12,000 oxygen concentrators to India.
While Microsoft is partnering with the US government in providing aid and oxygen, FedEx and UPS have taken up the mantle of taking care of the transportation of life-saving health care equipment like oxygen cylinders, ventilators, and oxygen concentrators to India.
On Sunday, Indian-Americans from Tamil Nadu including eminent philanthropist M R Rangaswami, held a "Help Tamil Nadu Breathe" to raise USD 1.5 million in a few hours.