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India covid: UK donation of ventilators is meaningless at this stage

“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,” Joe Biden tweeted.

Medical aid sent from the United Kingdom to India are a mere “political gesture“, according to an Indian doctor. India is currently facing such a huge medical crisis due to the dizzying increase of Covid-19 cases, that British aid will be almost ineffective.

India covid: UK donation of ventilators is meaningless at this stage.

British Foreign Office announced the sending of 600 life-saving kits to India, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators. The fist plane-loads of medical supplies have already arrived. Moreover, this week UK will send to India 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators.

But Dr Zarir Udwadia, member of a commitee monitoring Mumbai’s Covid response, claimed it is just “a drop in the ocean”. According to him, Covid crisis is too far down the road and India needs a more insightful aid.

He explained at BBC Radio 4: “It’s a political gesture, this will have a limited impact at this stage, sadly. We are past the stage of that”.

Dr Udwadia urged the international community to commit itself to a higher level to helping India. In his opinion, “The US is sitting on a pile AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines – millions – which they aren’t using” and “such vaccines should be donated to India”.

The US government has indeed lately announced that it will give up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to other countries, but it is still unknown how many doses India will receive.

Meanwhile, the White House promised to give a helping hand to India, sending medical supplies like oxygen, diagnostic tests, treatments, ventilators and protective gear. US will also provide raw materials to produce more AstraZeneca vaccine’s doses.

“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,” Joe Biden tweeted.

Anyway, much of the blame for the current medical emergency lies with the Indian government – argues Dr Udwadia. He has accused senior officials of “complacency”, since India got through the first wave with a relatively low death rate.

“We’re in the mess we are because of complacency. We let down our collective guard. We thought we’d won, because luck seemed to be conquering the first wave. All that has been exposed as merely self-assured hubris,” he told.

Dr Krishna Udayakumar, founding director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center at Duke University, thinks that, in the present situation, it’s impossible for India to keep up. He joined Dr Udwadia’s plea for an aid programme for India: “The situation in India is tragic and likely to get worse for some weeks to months”.

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