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26 Apr, 2021 15:46

Hit by massive Covid-19 wave, India seeks oxygen & antivirals from EU, with aid expected soon

Hit by massive Covid-19 wave, India seeks oxygen & antivirals from EU, with aid expected soon

New Delhi has reached out to the EU, seeking medical oxygen and antiviral drugs to fight its ongoing surge in coronavirus cases. The EU Commission said the aid is expected to become available shortly.

India has been hit by a massive second wave of Covid-19 infections in recent days. On Monday, the country set a new daily high as infections rose by 352,991 in the previous 24 hours, marking the fifth straight day the country broke global Covid-19 records for a one-day period.

Multiple countries around the world have already pledged to send emergency aid to India, as it struggles with ballooning infections numbers. Multiple hospitals in the country have run out of space to accommodate the influx of infected, and have suffered shortages of oxygen needed to treat critically-ill patients.

Also on rt.com Army drafted in to help India’s struggling hospitals battle spiraling Covid cases

An EU Commission spokesman confirmed at a news conference on Monday that the EU has been contacted by New Delhi.

“The Indians have asked for medical oxygen and antivirals, notably remdesivir,” the spokesman said.

A large consignment of the drug, developed by the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, had been procured by the EU. Last October, it signed a deal with the company, which allowed its 27 member states and 10 partner countries to order up to 500,000 courses of remdesivir over six months.

However, it remains unclear how many doses of remdesivir have actually been stockpiled by EU states and what quantity they’ll share. After the contract was signed with Gilead, the drug’s efficacy against coronavirus has been repeatedly questioned by international experts. A report by the World Health Organization, for instance, suggested that the drug had little to no effect on length of hospital stays for coronavirus patients, with the medication apparently minimally affecting mortality figures, too.

In India, however, the drug is being increasingly prescribed to coronavirus patients. Moreover, the demand for it has been so high in recent weeks, that Indian authorities have repeatedly caught shipments of fake remdesivir – and even had to publish tutorials on how to tell the genuine drug from a phony one.

It also remains unclear how much oxygen the EU would be able to share. As of now, only Ireland has agreed to supply some. Germany and France have also indicated they will help, though they did not make any commitments, the spokesman admitted.

“We can expect that in the next hours and days we can confirm more help,” he added. The official, however, did not give any time frame on when the aid would actually be delivered to India.

Also on rt.com ‘Coronavirus storm’ has shaken India, PM Modi says, as country registers nearly 350,000 Covid-19 cases in new global daily record

Since the beginning of the pandemic, India has registered more than 17.3 million coronavirus cases, with nearly 200,000 people succumbing to the disease. Indian authorities have admitted they may have been somewhat overconfident after successfully tackling the first wave of Covid-19, before becoming overwhelmed with the second.

“We were confident, our spirits were up after successfully tackling the first wave, but this storm has shaken the nation,” India’s PM Narendra Modi said in a radio address on Sunday.

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