Two Russian flights with oxygen concentrators, lung ventilation equipment, bedside monitors, medicines, including Coronavir, and other essential pharmaceutical items landed in India on Thursday as part of a growing global effort to help the country battle a second and more deadly Covid-19 wave. The consignment of aid follows a commitment of support by President Vladimir Putin to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a telephone call. India had approved emergency supplies of hydroxychloroquine to Russia when the pandemic unfolded last year.
“The Russian Federation decided to send humanitarian assistance to India in the spirit of the special and privileged strategic partnership between our two countries, as well as in the context of our anti-Covid-19 cooperation,” said Nikolay Kudashev, Ambassador of Russia to India. The flights of the Russian Emergencies Ministry delivered equipment such as 20 oxygen production units, 75 lung ventilators, 150 medical monitors and 200,000 packs of medicine. The joint fight against the pandemic also includes the forthcoming deliveries of the Sputnik V vaccine, starting from May 2021, and the subsequent facilitation of its production in India, cooperation in the field of medical science, including with regard to new coronavirus strains.
With over three million active cases now in India and the worsening Covid-19 situation, India has prioritised imports of oxygen, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday. “India is looking at getting around 550 oxygen generating plants, 4,000 oxygen concentrators and 10,000 oxygen cylinders from abroad and 40 countries had pledged their support,” Shringla said. India is looking at procuring 400,000 units of Remdesivir medicine from Egypt besides exploring to get it from countries like the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan. Responding to questions on a shift in India’s policy of not accepting foreign aid, laid down after the 2004 tsunami, Shringla clarified that the medical supplies and assistance by its partners and friends were not to be seen in terms of any policy framework. India has supplied essential pharmaceutical products including Remdesivir to geographies across the globe in view of the pandemic and the countries have now come forward to help India.
Meanwhile, supplies and assistance, are lined up from more countries and further consignments are expected from the US, UK and others. The UK is sending life-saving oxygen equipment to India after the first set of 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 ventilators arrived earlier this week. Three oxygen generation units, each producing 500 litres of oxygen per minute and in the size of shipping containers will be sent from surplus stocks in Northern Ireland. The US has dispatched its first batch of Covid-19 relief materials to India which includes 440 oxygen cylinders and regulators, 960,000 rapid diagnostic tests to identify infections early to help prevent the community spread of Covid-19 and 100,000 N95 masks to protect India’s frontline healthcare heroes. Two special aircraft carrying the medical supplies from the US are expected to reach India by Friday and another one is likely in the next few days.