US companies form global task force to help India in covid crisis

US Chamber of Commerce
Photo credit: US Chamber of Commerce/Facebook

Confederation of Indian Industry building channel for mobilizing support from the US.

The US Chamber of Commerce and CEOs from over 40 companies have formed a global task force, Mobilizing for India, hit by a deadly second wave of coronavirus that has claimed over 200,000 lives.

The new US public-private partnership would provide India with critical medical supplies, vaccines, oxygen and other life-saving assistance amid an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases.

The partnership is supported by the Chamber’s US-India Business Council, the Business Roundtable and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, according to a chamber press release.

The announcement came as part of a US Chamber of Commerce-hosted meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell.

READ: US pledges steadfast, ongoing support for Covid hit India (April 27, 2021)

Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) North America unit has also issued a separate urgent appeal for mobilizing support from the US to help India tide over the steep second covid wave with total cases nearing 18 million.

CII is building a channel for industry members at this time and maintaining a repository of credible suppliers of critical care items, wrote Shuchita Sonalika, Director and Head – North America in her appeal.

Industry is facing several challenges on this front – per the national Covid -19 task force, 54.5% of hospital admissions during the second wave required supplemental oxygen during treatment, leading to a sharp increase in oxygen demand, she noted.

In addition to increased demand, there are logistical challenges as well; the producing areas are often far from deficient areas and there is a shortage of containers for transporting liquid oxygen.

The Government of India has decided to waive off the customs duty and health cess on the import of oxygen and oxygen related equipment till 31 July 2021, Sonalika noted.

CII sought industry support in augmenting the oxygen availability across India by supporting the import of medical oxygen-related equipment.

READ: United States offers to make vaccine ingredients available to India immediately (April 25, 2021)

The items that are required on immediate basis are:

ISO container to facilitate transport of liquid oxygen to deficient areas.

Cylinders for liquid oxygen and oxygen gas.

Personal Oxygen concentrators, which can be used at home, reducing the need for hospitalization.

The PSA (Pressure Swing Absorption) and VSA (Vacuum Swing Absorption) oxygen concentrators for hospitals.

FDA approved Military Oxygen Generators which can support smaller, up to 50 bedded, hospitals, ventilators and bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP) machines.

Medicines for Covid like Remdesivir and Favipiravir and Pulseoximeters are some other items required to aid the healthcare response to the current crisis, CII said.

READ: Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella rushing aid to covid-hit India (April 26, 2021)

CII said help could be provided in any of the following ways:

Extending donations and financial support to the CII Foundation to carry on its work in importing and deploying equipment, providing food packets, water and sanitization kits in India.

Providing contact details of US companies for procurement of critical care items listed above for CII’s global repository to provide nationwide industry support.

Sharing widely our appeal for help and connecting us with any companies or organizations who may be of assistance during this time.

“Indian Industry has always risen to the occasion, extending generous support in times of national crises, and I am sure this time will be no different,” Sonalika wrote.

Meanwhile, at the US chamber meeting, business leaders underscored the depth and breadth of the crisis, in economic as well as humanitarian terms, the Chamber release said.

“This global crisis requires a global response, and the American business community could not be better positioned, or more determined, to help lead the way,” said Suzanne Clark, president and chief executive officer of the US Chamber of Commerce.

READ: How pressure mounted on Biden administration to help India during coronavirus surge (April 25, 2021)

Many of the participating companies have already pledged to help India tackle the surging pandemic by providing financial assistance, logistics and transportation support, and key medical supplies including oxygen generators and concentrators, it said.

The US Chamber of Commerce is working with its members to coordinate the outpouring of support from US companies across the country, and provide resources and information for businesses looking to play a larger role, the release said.

As part of these efforts, the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation has developed Resources for India’s Covid-19 Crisis, including a portal through which American companies can offer in-kind donations.

The US Chamber and Chamber Foundation are working closely with both the US and Indian governments to facilitate the donation and distribution of critical goods and services.

“We understand the importance of public-private partnerships to address global problems,” said Clark.

“The steps we take together can help the world’s second largest country and provide a playbook to combat the virus until safe and effective vaccines are more widely and globally available.”

READ MORE:

Indian Americans concerned about travel to Covid hit India (April 26, 2021)

Vinod Khosla offers to help Indian hospitals with import of oxygen (April 24, 2021)

Covid tsunami hits India with record 332,000 daily cases (April 23, 2021)

READ: Don’t let the ‘America First’ derail India-U.S. ties (April 24, 202)

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