International efforts to help India fight its devastating coronavirus crisis have intensified when the White House said the United States would immediately provide raw materials for vaccine manufacturing and the United Kingdom announced it had sent ventilators and oxygen to Delhi.
France and Germany are also poised to send much-needed oxygen to India in the coming days as it battles the world’s worst outbreak. Pakistan, a traditional enemy, offered medical equipment and supplies after Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted prayers for a “speedy recovery.”
India reported 349,691 new cases on Sunday, a record increase for the fourth day in a row and 2,767 people dead. Hospitals are running out of vital oxygen and patients are dying while waiting to see doctors.
Official statistics and a death toll of 192,311 are feared underestimating the scale of the crisis, as experts believe that many people will not get tested or will not have access to medical care.
Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, said the country was facing a “storm” of infections. “Our spirits were very high after successfully dealing with the first wave,” he said in a radio address Sunday. “But this storm has shaken the nation.”
The United States had been facing increasing pressure to lift export controls on raw materials intended to increase its own domestic supply of vaccines, which Indian vaccine manufacturers said was slowing their ability to produce injections.
National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement that the United States would send the necessary raw materials for India to manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine, as well as therapeutic products, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for the children. front-line workers. “The United States is working around the clock to deploy available resources and supplies,” he said.
The UK package includes 495 oxygen concentrators, which can extract oxygen from the air when hospital systems are depleted, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators. It is expected to arrive in Delhi on Tuesday with more shipments later in the week.
Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, said that Britain stood “by India’s side as a friend and partner. […] I am determined to ensure that the UK does everything possible to support the international community in the global fight against the pandemic. “
US President Joe Biden has previously said that the US will not supply vaccines to other countries until it has sufficient supplies at home, but US leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Sunday the US would review how to help scale up India’s vaccine. supply or help them “essentially make vaccines themselves.” India is one of the largest vaccine manufacturers in the world.
Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, Rhode Island, urged the Biden administration to go further and share the excess vaccines with India and other countries in crisis, noting that the US He had an estimated 30 million unused doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that has not been licensed by US regulators. The calls were repeated by author Salman Rushdie, who said, “The United States has something of a glut of vaccines. India is in dire straits. “
The unprecedented spread of the virus has overwhelmed hospitals in major cities, which continue to face severe shortages of beds and oxygen.
Cemeteries in Delhi are running out of space with funeral pyres lighting up the night sky in other heavily affected cities. In the central city of Bhopal, some crematoria have increased their capacity from dozens of pyres to more than 50.
Workers at the city’s Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat crematorium said they cremated more than 110 people on Saturday, even as city-wide government figures of 1.8 million put the total number of virus deaths at just 10. “The virus is it’s swallowing the people of our city like a monster, ”Mamtesh Sharma said, a site official told the Associated Press.
Modi’s government has faced mounting questions since the resurgence of the pandemic over its lax security measures and lack of preparedness for a surge in cases. It emerged on Sunday that Indian officials were attempting to censor such criticism, after Twitter confirmed it had blocked dozens of critical tweets following a New Delhi lawsuit.
A woman mourning the loss of her 50-year-old younger brother after two hospitals rejected him and he died waiting to be seen in a third, blamed Modi for the crisis in a video filmed by the Indian weekly The Caravan. “He has lit funeral pyres in every house,” he said.
In response, the government has deployed special trains to move oxygen tanks from steel plants to hospitals across the country in an effort to allow greater access to medical care. More than 500 oxygen generation plants will also be installed in government hospitals, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.
It said last week that it planned to make the vaccines available to all adults over the age of 18 starting May 1, but the Serum Institute of India (SII), which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine, has warned that it will not be able to meet its projected goals. .
IBS also makes vaccines for the international Covax program aimed at helping the developing world, which is scheduled to deliver just one in five of the doses it had estimated it would deliver in May.
Adar Poonawalla, the CEO, appealed to Biden earlier this month to lift restrictions on supplies needed for production. “I humbly ask you to lift the embargo on raw material exports outside of the US so that vaccine production can increase. His administration has the details, ”he said on Twitter.
India, which has embarked on the world’s largest vaccination campaign, has administered more than 140 million doses of vaccine. So far, 8.47% of people have received a dose and 1.55% are fully vaccinated.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism