Amid COVID-19 crisis, 42 countries pitch in to help India with oxygen cylinders, Remdesivir

New Delhi: As India tries to tide over the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has got pledges of support from 42 countries of which assistance from 21 countries has already arrived. 

India requires assistance in two areas – oxygen and essential medicines. Hospitals and other medical centres are in dire need of medical oxygen supplies and equipment that can generate oxygen, and antiviral drugs like Remdesivir. 

Currently, in the country, the production of medical oxygen supply has increased from 5700 MT to 9480 MT but it needs to be supplemented. 

From international assistance, India has got 20,000 oxygen cylinders, 11000 oxygen concentrators, 30 oxygen tankers and 75 oxygen generator plants. Out of the 30 Oxygen tankers, only 9 have reached and the remaining 21 tankers are yet to be delivered. 

The Ministry of External Affairs can assist to get global players to set up 50,000MT plants. A total of 1172 oxygen tankers are being put in place, 102,400 oxygen cylinders are being procured, 1 lakh oxygen concentrators are being procured. 

Many tankers have also come as part of deals between private companies.

When it comes to Remdesivir, the aim is to produce 1 crore in the country or around 3 lakh per day. American biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences on Saturday sent 1.5 lakh vials of Remdesivir. 

From Egypt-based Eva Pharma, India will be getting 4 lakh doses of Remdesivir. India has got quotations from Bangladesh, Germany, Uzbekistan, and UAE. 

All in all, India will get 16 lakh vials of Remdesivir from these sources. Focus also on the alternate antiviral drug tocilizumab, with Switzerland-based Roche increasing its supply by 60 times. 

India is getting 11,000 vials, and 21,000 more vials are expected of tocilizumab, usually given in the initial stages of covid. India is getting favipiravir from Russia, RoActemra from other sources. 

India’s missions and posts are coordinating efforts of procuring as well as making sure that the assistance by foreign countries reaches the country as it battles the covid pandemic. 

As the 2nd wave hit the country, the ministry of external affairs’s COVID cell was reactivated. The COVID cell formed last year, has around 15-20 IFS officers, mostly young officers, and is headed by Dammu Ravi who is the Additional Secretary coordinating all issues under it. 

Naveen Srivastava and Vinay Kumar are the other 2 MEA officials, who are part of the entire coordination effort against covid. While Naveen represents MEA at the empowered panels on coordinating against COVID, Vinay deals with vaccine efforts like Vaccine Maitri and others.

While a lot of support has come in from across the globe, many leaders have recalled how India had reached out to the world community when they needed medicines and other essentials. 

US President Joe Biden recently said, “when we were in a bind at the very beginning, India helped us.” 

In 2020, India had sent HCQ to the US when it was battling the covid pandemic. Charles, Prince of Wales, the heir apparent to the British throne in a message for India said, “As India has helped others, so now must we help India”. 

Even as International assistance helps to bridge the short-term capacity constraints, the Centre aims to ramp up capacity.


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