(Washington) The United States, which has sent emergency aid to India, wants to quickly help the country increase oxygen capacity to treat COVID-19 patients, a US official said Thursday.
The first military aircraft with equipment, including nearly a million rapid tests and 100,000 N95 masks, arrived in New Delhi early in the morning. The delivery is part of a support plan worth more than $ 100 million, according to the White House.
The priority “is to try to meet some of their immediate needs in order to cope with the serious challenges they face in their hospitals,” said Jeremy Konyndyk of the US Agency for International Development.
“We also need to help them tackle some of the underlying issues related to the amount of oxygen the country can produce,” he told AFP.
The US is discussing with India how to develop an “oxygen supply chain,” including using technology to convert industrial oxygen into medical oxygen and improve its transportation.
Washington also pledged to help India by providing vaccines. But for a country of more than a billion people facing a sharp rise in cases, it is more of a medium-term measure, according to Mr Konyndyk.
“There is simply not enough vaccine in the world right now, and there is no way to deliver it quickly enough to control such an outbreak,” he said.
On Monday, the United States said it would provide other countries with 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine not licensed for their country, but has yet to decide how many will be shipped to India.
Meanwhile, President Biden’s administration said it is sending equipment to India to produce more than 20 million doses of Covishield vaccine, a cheaper version of the AstraZeneca vaccine developed in India.
Joe Biden has been criticized by activists who believe that he should have quickly shared doses of the vaccine with the rest of the world.