Covid: How is the rest of the world helping India’s fight against coronavirus?

ITV News Correspondent Stacey Foster on how the people of Britain are helping to fight against India’s Covid crisis


India’s healthcare system is on the verge of collapse as the country struggles to cope with rising coronavirus infections.

For the past five days, India has recorded more than 300,000 daily cases, with desperately ill people being turned away from hospitals and reported of people dying in the streets.

The country’s death toll is nearly 200,000, but experts believe the true figure could be between twice or five times that number.

And with a vast population of 1.3 billion people, India cannot simply vaccinate its way out of the pandemic.

Thousands of new coronavirus deaths are recorded in India each day. Credit: Channi Anand/AP

As well as vaccines, India is short of oxygen cylinders, ventilators and PPE needed to help in its fight against Covid-19.

Countries from across the world have pledged to support India in the coming weeks. Here’s how some of them are helping out:

UK

The first shipment of medical supplies from the UK arrived in India on Tuesday – the first international shipment aimed a stemming a rising Covid-19 surge.

The shipment of 200 pieces of equipment, including ventilators and oxygen, arrived in Delhi, but more will be needed.

In total, 600 pieces of equipment will be sent to India. This includes nine airline containers of supplies, including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators, which will be sent to India this week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Credit: Justin Tallis/PA

The oxygen concentrators can extract oxygen from the air in the atmosphere so that it can be provided to patients, taking the strain off hospital oxygen systems and allowing oxygen to be provided in situations where hospital oxygen supplies have run out.

Boris Johnson said: “We stand side by side with India as a friend and partner during what is a deeply concerning time in the fight against Covid-19.

“Vital medical equipment, including hundreds of oxygen concentrators and ventilators, is now on its way from the UK to India to support efforts to prevent the tragic loss of life from this terrible virus.

“We will continue to work closely with the Indian government during this difficult time and I’m determined to make sure that the UK does everything it can to support the international community in the global fight against the pandemic.”

The UK will not be sending vaccine doses to India in the foreseeable future.

A spokesman for the prime minister said: “We are moving through the UK prioritisation list for our domestic rollout and we don’t have surplus doses, but we will keep this under review.”

India Foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi tweeted photos on Tuesday of the first shipment of medical aid India received from Britain.

US

US president Joe Biden said he will send 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine abroad, and it is believed India will be among one of the recipients.

The US is also lifting a ban on sending raw materials to India which will allow the country to produce more vaccines for its people.

People queue for a Covid-19 vaccine in Mumbai, India Credit: Rafiq Maqbool/AP

Rapid test kits, ventilators and PPE will also be delivered, Mr Biden announced.

«Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,» President Joe Biden said.

European Union

A joint EU effort to send vital supplies to India is underway.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on Sunday she was “alarmed by the epidemiological situation in India”.

She added: “We are ready to support. The EU is pooling resources to respond rapidly to India’s request for assistance.”

Oxygen and medicine is expected to be sent to India shortly.

Chancellor Angela Merkel also said that Germany «stands in solidarity with India and is urgently preparing a mission of support”.

«To the people of India, I want to express my sympathy on the terrible suffering that Covid-19 has again brought to your communities. The fight against the pandemic is our common fight,» she said in a statement.

The German army is set to provide a large oxygen production plant, while France said it will send supplies via air and sea, including eight oxygen concentrators, containers of liquid oxygen and 28 respirators.

Janez Lenarcic, the European Emergency Response Coordinator said the EU has activated its Civil Protection Mechanism to help India with the Covid-19 crisis.

World Health Organization

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief, said India’s rising Covid crisis is “beyond heartbreaking”.

“WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies, including thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies,” Tedros told a briefing.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a vaccine by itself will not ‘end the pandemic’ on its own. Credit: PA

An estimated 2,600 WHO staff members from other programmes have been redeployed to India to support the fight against Covid-19.

World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said it would deliver 4,000 oxygen concentrators to India.

Around the world

Pledges of support have come from Denmark, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Australia and others.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison announced one million surgical masks, 500 ventilators, 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields would be donated.

A military aircraft was sent from India to the UAE to transport oxygen containers back for use in its hospitals.

Six empty cryogenic containers were flown from Dubai on Monday. The containers will be used to store liquid oxygen that will be used to help patients breathe.


ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports on the world-record Covid cases recorded in India

Other smaller countries are also vowing to help India, including neighbouring Bhutan, which said it would send “a spare few hundred litres” of oxygen as soon as their newly built oxygen plant was completed.

In March, India gifted Bhutan more than half a million AstraZeneca vaccines, which helped the country implement one of the world’s fastest vaccination rollouts. In just 16 days, 93% of the population was vaccinated.

How can I help?

India’s plight has left many people wondering how they can help.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has extended its coronavirus appeal to include India in order to provide aid and medical supplies to the country as it is gripped by crisis.

The DEC said its member charities, including the British Red Cross, ActionAid UK and Save the Children UK, would offer support including by providing ventilators and setting up temporary Covid hospitals and care centres.

Another organisation which has worked tirelessly to help Indians is the Sikh aid group Khalsa Help International, which has been buying small quantities of oxygen to help those in need.

Khalsa Aid UK has also been helping by providing wood to help perform the last rites of patients who succumbed to Covid-19.

Volunteers are helping to deliver oxygen to Covid-19 patients in Delhi – India’s worst hit city – using money donated to them from around the world.

An appeal has also been set up by Khalsa Aid UK for oxygen concentrators to send to India.

You can donate to international and local organisations in India working to provide relief and urgent supplies.

  • ActionAid is distributing food packages and supplies. They are also translating vital public health advice into local languages and ensuring it reaches the most marginalised communities. 

  • Mission Oxygen – Helping Hospitals Save Lives. A group in New Delhi is crowdfunding to urgently procure thousands of oxygen concentrators for hospitals across the country.

  • Feeding From Far is another fundraiser on Ketto (India’s crowdfunding website) and they are distributing ration kits and food to the disadvantaged in Mumbai.

  • The Uday Foundation has been feeding underprivileged patients and their families while they wait for their treatment outside hospitals in Delhi.

  • The Hemkunt Foundation is supplying oxygen to Covid patients in Delhi for free, with a ‘drive thru’ site.





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