2021-04-16T000143Z_784738759_RC2OWM9UAEA4_RTRMADP_3_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-INDIA-VACCINE-(Read-Only)
Patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) get treatment at the casualty ward in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) hospital, amidst the spread of the disease in New Delhi, India. Image Credit: Reuters

From rushing life-saving drugs, oxygen cylinders and equipment to ventilators and BiPAP machines, a global outpouring of solidarity for India as it battles a horrendous resurgence of Covid-19 has come as a heart-warming reassurance that the international community stands united in the fight against the virus.

Globally, dozens of countries have rushed oxygen supplies, medical equipment and other essentials to India this week — a first US military flight, carrying 960,000 rapid test kits and 100,000 face masks for frontline health workers, flew in to India on Thursday.

The UK has sent a first shipment of 200 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators for distribution across Indian hospitals, while countries such as Singapore and Canada have sent similar consignments to support India’s pandemic response.

What is more heartening is that private sectors and corporates in several countries have also mobilised support for India, shipping aid for various Covid-19 resources needed in the country as hospitals run out of beds, medicines and oxygen cylinders, and long and heart-breaking queues form at crematoriums and graveyards.

The challenge for India’s overwhelmed and overburdened healthcare system is to facilitate a quick clearance and distribute this global inflow of aid and supplies effectively so that they can reach the worst-affected areas at the earliest and help contain the spiral of new cases and deaths.

In this regard, as clarified by Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the government has prioritised the requirement for equipment such as oxygen generators, concentrators and cryogenic tankers, along with medicines such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab. Along with the initiative to seek government-to-government support to mitigate the crisis, these are welcome steps.

But with projections forecasting new infections to soar for at least some more weeks, a massive logistical and healthcare battle lies ahead for India – and for that reason it is essential that the international community’s helping hand and deep engagement with India continues for the immediate future.

At another level, as highlighted by the World Health Organisation on Thursday, India’s grim tragedy also brings into focus the continued need for vigilance and speedy vaccinations — no country can yet afford to let its guard down.

With vaccinations being thrown open to all adults in India from Saturday, the government must also guarantee adequate supply of vaccines and sort out all pricing issues to ensure that the world’s largest vaccination drive becomes a success.