SAN FRANCISCO, California — The United States and India are the top two countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. Due to their difficulties in containing the virus, India and the United States have made it a priority to help each other during turbulent times. Around April 2021, India saw a surge in COVID-19 cases, which prompted emergency aid from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). With U.S. aid to India, India hopes to successfully recover from the second wave of COVID-19.
COVID-19 in India
When India saw its first national lockdown on March 25, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country would “shut state borders, suspend inter-state travel, halting businesses and requiring people to stay at home.” This initial lockdown lasted 68 days, until May 31, when India started to lift its restrictions, the country totaled slightly more than 190,000 COVID-19 cases.
During the lockdown, India’s impoverished suffered the most, struggling to secure both food and income. This presented a dilemma for Modi as creating a national lockdown would help fight against the spread of COVID-19, but more people would fall into poverty as a result of it. For reference, 75 million people in India fell into poverty because of COVID-19. Since the first lockdown, India has taken a different approach as 35 different “states and union territories” now decide their own lockdown restrictions, such as night curfews and short-term lockdowns.
While these states had the freedom to impose area-specific lockdowns, India still saw a surge in COVID-19 cases as the nation surpassed 10 million cases by the end of 2020. Soon after, the second wave of COVID-19 occurred in India. The country saw a 19 million case increase from 12 million to more than 31 million cases during a four-month period from April to July in 2021. At the time, along with 31 million COVID-19 cases, India tallied more than 423,000 deaths.
US Aid to India
Due to India’s rapid surge in COVID-19 cases, the U.S. sent out $100 million worth of emergency supplies to help combat COVID-19 in India. Initially, the U.S. sent airplanes full of lifesaving supplies on April 28, 2021, and then sent six more aircrafts eight days later on May 6, 2021.
The six emergency airplanes contained 1,500 oxygen cylinders, about 550 oxygen concentrators and multiple large-scale oxygen generated units, which can each treat more than 20 patients at a time. In addition, the U.S. supplied 2.5 million N95 masks, vaccine-manufacturing supplies, one million rapid diagnostic tests, “20,000 courses of remdesivir” and more.
Furthermore, on June 28, 2021, the U.S. provided $41 million to help India combat COVID-19. According to USAID, this money will “support access to COVID-19 testing, pandemic-related mental health services, timely referrals to medical services and access to healthcare in rural areas.” The money will also help strengthen India’s medical services and vaccination programs.
The U.S. provided another $25 million on July 28, 2021, toward India’s vaccination efforts as the country has a relatively low vaccine rate for its population size. According to The New York Times, only 7.2% of the population is fully vaccinated and 26% have received one dose. The U.S. also plans to partner with India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to “support vaccine supply chain logistics, address misinformation and vaccine hesitancy and train healthcare workers to deliver vaccines safely and effectively across India.”
Positive Impacts of US Aid to India
U.S. aid to India has not only helped the lives of millions of people but it has also helped prepare the nation for future medical emergencies. The U.S. has supplied resources to more than 1,000 healthcare facilities in India. The U.S. has also trained more than 213,000 frontline workers on infection prevention and control to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Furthermore, the U.S. partnered with UNICEF to send a message on COVID-19 prevention guidelines, which has reached more than 84 million people. Lastly, the U.S. assisted critically ill patients across 15 different Indian states, providing 200 ventilators to 29 healthcare centers. Altogether, U.S. aid to India has safeguarded the lives of 9.7 million people in India.
During India’s COVID-19 surge, U.S. aid to India has provided emergency support that will help those who are currently sick while striving to improve the country’s vaccination rate. With U.S. aid, India can successfully recover from the harmful impacts of COVID-19.
– Kyle Har