Covid-19: US defense secretary Austin directs Pentagon to provide material support to Indian healthcare workers

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US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III on Sunday (local time) directed Pentagon to use its resources in order to provide material support to frontline Indian healthcare workers who are fighting against the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

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“I’m deeply concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak in India, and today, I directed the @DeptofDefense to use every resources at our disposal, within our authority, to support US interagency efforts to provide India’s frontline healthcare workers with the materials they need,” tweeted Austin.

In a statement, Austin said that men and women of the Department of Defense stand by their Indian partners in the hour of need and they are in this fight together.

“In the next few days, we will provide transportation and logistics assistance to deliver needed supplies to India, including oxygen-related equipment, rapid testing kits, and personal protective equipment,” read the statement.

“We are currently assessing the equipment we can both procure and draw from our own inventory in the coming days and weeks. We will continue to work closely with other US agencies and Departments, as well as with industry, to support our Indian partners in their effort to combat this outbreak,” added Austin.

The move comes after US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris directed towards mobilisation of American resources to assist India to tackle the unprecedented health crisis in the wake of the deadly second wave of coronavirus.

The US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is funding a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for BioE, the vaccine manufacturer in India, enabling BioE to ramp up to produce at least one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022.

Biden also acknowledged last year’s assistance from India to America when the latter was facing a healthcare crisis. Last year during the first COVID-19 wave, India shipped 50 million tablets of hydroxychloroquine to the United States following a request by then US President Donald Trump.

Over three hundred oxygen concentrators have been dispatched on Sunday morning from New York to India, according to a Government of India official based in the United States.

Air India’s A102 is transporting five tonnes (5,000kg) of oxygen concentrators as cargo from the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York and is scheduled to land in Delhi by Monday noon.



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