Washington, April 30 2021: A C-5 super Galaxy military plane loaded with medical supplies from the US has arrived in India as medical aid on Friday. The Biden administration had earlier this week promised aid worth $100 million which included the dispatch of emergency medical supplies such as the N95 face masks, testing kits and medicines to India who is experiencing the worst month of the pandemic so far.
According to Jeremy Konyndyk, the executive director of the CIVID-19 task force at the USAID, the top priority is to try and serve the immediate and basic supply needs and to address the acute challenges being faced by Indian hospitals. He said, “I think we’re cognizant that that’s a sort of stopgap approach and we also need to support them to address some of the underlying challenges, which is really about the volume of medical-grade oxygen that the country can produce.”
To ensure more long term sustainable solutions, the US is discussing with India the possibility of an oxygen supply chain which includes the development of techniques to convert industrial grade oxygen for use as medical grade.
Commenting on the vaccine aid however, Konyndyk said there were at present not enough vaccine supply in the world and that giving shots was more of medium term solution while facing the soaring cases in the country with a population of over 1 billion.
Initially, President Joe Biden said on Monday it would release overseas up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not yet been approved for use in the US but was in their stockpile, however it has not yet been decided how many of those doses are actually going to be sent to India since the modalities regarding vaccine dispatch had not been approved by the FDA.
The supplies for the Indian vaccine Covishield which is a lower cost version of AstraZeneca, meanwhile will be shipped to India.
In spite of the future expected glut of vaccine supply in the US, the country has failed to move quickly for sharing vaccines and president Joe Biden has faced criticism from development activists in that quarter. India has also been pressing the World Trade Organization to urge the US and other developed countries to ease intellectual property rules that prevent countries like India from mass manufacturing the vaccine for their own populations.
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