Vaccine Maitri is a pragmatic response to the pandemic: From supplying hydroxychloroquine to more than 100 nations to providing 64 million doses of vaccines to more than 80 nations, India’s imprint on global health has been substantive. And as the Gulf nations got hit hard as a result of several nations banning food exports and declining oil demand, India ensured uninterrupted supply of food and essential items.
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It is heartening to see the massive global response to a critical moment in India’s fight against Covid-19. India’s friends and partners have stepped up to the challenge of managing the second wave hitting India. Singapore has donated cryogenic oxygen tanks and Australia is shipping oxygen, ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits. Thailand has pitched in, and so has Israel. Saudi Arabia is shipping liquid oxygen to India while the United Arab Emirates is airlifting high-capacity oxygen tankers.
In Europe, France, Germany, the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union have all reached out. The UK is shipping over “600 pieces of vital medical equipment” which will include 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators, and 20 manual ventilators.
Russian aid is aimed at helping India with the shortages of remdesivir as well as providing oxygen concentrators and generators. Though China too offered its help, in a curious twist the largest cargo flight operator from China to India, the Chinese State-owned Sichuan Airlines, has suspended its services to India for two weeks.
The US response has also been strong though it came late as compared to the others and despite repeated efforts by India to get the ban lifted on raw materials need for vaccine manufacturing. After what seemed like an unusually prolonged silence from the top echelons of the Biden administration, finally Washington responded at multiple levels. While providing material help, it is also trying to identify “sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India.”