New Delhi: The US has said its decision to donate 200 ventilators to India is not in lieu of New Delhi’s move to send hydroxychloroquine drugs to America, but is about “partnership”.
“This is not a quid pro quo, this is about partnership. We are supporting each other with whatever can be provided and supplied at this stage. So that’s the situation where the US is providing ventilators to countries based on their needs and we are ensuring the vents are available adequately in the domestic market (of the US) also,” said Ramona El Hamzaoui, USAID Acting Director, during a select tele-media briefing Tuesday.
Hamzaoui said the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) will be sending a tranche of 50 ventilators in the first batch, while the remaining 150 will be sent in a phase-wise manner.
“As President Trump recently announced, the US government is planning to donate ventilators to India — another example of our strong partnership during the Covid-19 pandemic. We will have more updates in the next few days,” she added.
Official sources had earlier told ThePrint 100 ventilators will be coming in this month and remaining 100 in the next month, but they didn’t specify in how many batches they would be delivered.
Hamzaoui said as of now there are no decisions to send more ventilators to India.
India needs 75,000 ventilators to fight the pandemic. Earlier this month, the government had said it has 19,398 ventilators, while orders have been placed for 60,884 more.
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The decision to donate 200 ventilators to India was announced by US President Donald Trump last Saturday.
India had sent hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol to the US last month amid mounting criticism at home. However, Trump praised the move and said such a gesture by India will “not be forgotten”.
US’ Covid aid to India
On the issue of India importing Covid-19 testing kits from the US, Hamzaoui said supplies of any other kind of medical devices are underway between both the sides “within the context of the Indo-US vaccine programme”.
In an interview to ThePrint last month, India’s ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu had said New Delhi is engaged with the US to procure RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription–Polymerase Chain Reaction) and rapid antibody test kits, RNA (ribonucleic acid) extraction kits and other medical supplies.
The USAID has, so far, provided aid worth $5.9 million to India, exclusively for combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The USAID and the US Department of State have made more than $900 million available (globally) to combat Covid-19,” said Hamzaoui.
US-India joint efforts on vaccine development
India and the US have been collaborating on vaccines under a Vaccine Action Plan (VAP) for last 33 years on a range of infectious diseases, said Preetha Rajaraman, Health and Human Services, Health Attaché, at the US embassy in India.
The collaboration is between the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, India’s Department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research and many other partners, she added.
“In the context of the current pandemic, partners under the VAP are planning to collaborate on the development and testing of vaccine candidates and diagnostics for Covid-19,” said Rajaraman.
According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Mission Director Meghna Desai, the federal agency is working with the Indian government to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, Trump had said the US and India are cooperating in vaccine development and also announced the launch of ‘Operation Warp Speed’ for the development and production of a Covid vaccine by the end of the year.
The Trump administration has appointed Moncef Slaoui, former head of GSK Vaccines, and Gustave Perna, a four-star Army general, to lead the operation.
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