Coronavirus: Biden talks with Modi; vital supplies arrive from UK
As a catastrophic wave of coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in India, valuable partners of the country have pledged support. On Monday, United States President Joe Biden had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where he underlined that Washington would help New Delhi. In the meantime, the first package of oxygen concentrators and ventilators arrived from the United Kingdom this morning.
After the disease surfaced early last year, India took crucial steps to mitigate the crisis. The first wave had peaked in mid-September and eventually, the daily caseload fell drastically. However, since the beginning of April, India has been facing a resurgent wave, which is infecting lakhs of people daily. The spike in cases has overburdened medical facilities, leaving affected families to fend for themselves.
Just as the second wave gripped India, New Delhi turned to allies for help. On Monday, Biden told PM Modi that the US will "provide emergency assistance and resources in the fight against COVID-19." "India was there for us, and we will be there for them," Biden tweeted, hinting at New Delhi's gesture to export crucial medicines when coronavirus had ripped the US apart.
Today, I spoke with Prime Minister @narendramodi and pledged America’s full support to provide emergency assistance and resources in the fight against COVID-19. India was there for us, and we will be there for them.— President Biden (@POTUS) April 26, 2021
A statement from PM Modi's office revealed that both the leaders spoke about "India's ongoing efforts to contain the second wave of COVID-19 through expedited vaccination efforts, and ensuring supply of critical medicines, therapeutics and healthcare equipment." PM Modi called the conversation fruitful and thanked Biden for the support. "India-US healthcare partnership can address the global challenge of COVID-19," he tweeted.
My discussion with @POTUS @JoeBiden also underscored the importance of smooth and efficient supply chains of vaccine raw materials and medicines. India-US healthcare partnership can address the global challenge of COVID-19.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 26, 2021
Separately, an official said that Pentagon is working diligently to start delivering essential items to India, more importantly, oxygen-related equipment, rapid testing kits, and PPEs. "The department is looking to begin making delivery of supplies within the next few days. We'll also provide transportation and logistics assistance to deliver these needed supplies as quickly as possible," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Monday.
Meanwhile, the first batch of vital items landed in New Delhi this morning. A Lufthansa flight transported 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators from the UK. "International cooperation at work! Appreciate the shipment of vital medical supplies from the United Kingdom, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators that arrived early this morning," tweeted Arindam Bagchi, Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Further shipments, funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), are being organized. These include 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators, and 20 manual ventilators. Earlier, UK PM Boris Johnson had said the equipment will support India's "efforts to prevent the tragic loss of life from this terrible virus." "We stand side by side with India as a friend and partner," he had added.