US Sending Over $100M in Aid to India Amid Covid Surge

The United States is sending over $100 million of supplies to India to help it contain a massive surge in coronavirus infections, Reuters reports.

The White House said in a statement that it will send 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks, and 1 million rapid tests starting on Thursday.

"Just as India sent assistance to the United States when our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need," the White House said.

The administration said it has also “redirected its own order of AstraZeneca manufacturing supplies to India,” which should allow India to produce more than 20 million doses.

India has struggled with supplies amid a massive infection surge. Only about 10% of the country has received at least one dose of a vaccine as the rollout has been plagued by delays and shortages.

Hospitals and morgues have been over capacity for weeks and the country is grappling with a fatal oxygen shortage.

The country has been forced to cremate bodies in parking lots and makeshift facilities as crematoriums, which are already running 24 hours a day, have run out of capacity.

Travel advisory:

The US Embassy in India warned American travelers to leave the country amid the Covid surge.

“Access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in Covid-19 cases.  U.S. citizens who wish to depart India should take advantage of available commercial transportation options now,” the embassy warned. “New cases and deaths from COVID-19 have risen sharply throughout India to record levels.  COVID-19 testing infrastructure is reportedly constrained in many locations. Hospitals are reporting shortages of supplies, oxygen, and beds for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related patients.  U.S. citizens are reporting being denied admittance to hospitals in some cities due to a lack of space.  Some states have enacted curfews and other restrictions that limit movement and the operation of non-essential businesses.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a separate advisory that even “Even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to India.”

Modi criticized:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been widely criticized for his handling of the crisis, including recent decisions to extend election campaigning in part of the country and his decision not to cancel a Hindu festival attended by thousands.

“Where is the COVID-specific infrastructure and the ‘people’s movement’ against the virus that Modi boasted about in his speech?” questioned award-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy, accusing the prime minister of a “crime against humanity.”  “Hospital beds are unavailable. Doctors and medical staff are at breaking point. Friends call with stories about wards with no staff and more dead patients than live ones. People are dying in hospital corridors, on roads and in their homes.”


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